B.C. Civil Forfeiture Officer is going after a nearly $36,000 in cash seized from a man during a drug-related bust in Quesnel last year.
Leslie James Epton is named the defendant in a notice of claim the CFO's director filed last week in connection with an arrest on Aug. 2, 2020, when RCMP in the community of 10,356 people 116 kilometres south of Prince George executed search warrants on a 1700 Blackwater Road home and two units at a self-storage business in the 1000 block of Highway 97.
Along with the cash, the director's claim itemizes seizures of methamphetamine adding up to 538.5 grams as well as 19 grams of cocaine and 729 pills of MDMA, plus scales and other items related to drug trafficking, all allegedly found at various spots on the Blackwater Road property plus a shotgun and a rifle "Improperly stored" in the storage units. A collapsable baton and a crossbow were also among the items seized from the Blackwater Road property.
The director alleges the money, which added up to $35,965, was being used by Epton "to engage in unlawful activities which variously resulted in, or were likely to result in, the acquisition of property or an interest in property, or caused, or were likely to cause serious bodily harm."
Epton has not yet filed a response and the allegations have not been tested in court. As well, criminal charges in relation to the matter remain pending.
Because it is a civil matter, the CFO must convince the judge that on a balance of probabilities whether the cash is proceeds of crime. For a criminal conviction, the threshold is a much-higher standard of beyond reasonable doubt.
Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen