Woman accused in 2015 Operation Typhoon bust suing government

A St. John's woman who was swept up in a widely-publicized drug bust — in which police alleged had ties to bikers, the Mafia and terrorism — and later had her charges dropped is suing the Department of Justice.

Sharon Jeans and her husband Stephen were arrested after police searched their home in St. John's in October 2015 as part of a week-long drug investigation called Operation Typhoon. A second man was also charged but later died.

The now-defunct drug section of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (RCMP and Royal Newfoundland Constabulary) had seized 20 kilograms of hash, 11 pounds of marijuana and $115,000 cash. 

The charges against Sharon Jeans were withdrawn nine months later as the Crown did not believe there was a reasonable likelihood of conviction. Stephen Jeans pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months in jail.

In a lawsuit filed in Supreme Court, Jeans alleges the police "failed to carry out a prudent investigation" and "failed to ensure that members of the public were not unnecessarily charged with serious criminal offences."

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Originally, the lawsuit named then-RNC Supt. Marlene Jesso (now retired), the federal justice minister (RCMP) and provincial justice minister (RNC). However, according to court documents, the allegations against Jesso and the RCMP have been discontinued.

Sharon Jeans formerly worked with the College of the North Atlantic's campus in Qatar, and previously worked as the marketing director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation.

She said she has suffered reputation and financial losses, which the police "ought to have known would result from laying an sustaining such charges, and making comments at a press conference to associate those charges with crime and terrorism."

Seeking damages

The lawsuit, filed by Jeans' lawyer Kyle Rees, points to a news conference held by Jesso in which drugs and cash were displayed in a "sensational manner."

"We believe Black Gold hashish comes from Afghanistan and it is actually a fairly potent hash," Jesso said at the time of the bust, which was reportedly the biggest hash seizure in the province's history. 

"With any large drug seizure like this, the bikers, Mafia, we're looking at it coming from Afghanistan so I mean, it could have a terrorism part to play in this."

Court documents said Jesso claimed the bust had connections to the Mafia, bikers, organized crime and ISIS, "an organization infamous for killing innocent people through acts of terrorism" without evidence to support the statements.

According to the lawsuit, Jeans spent one night in custody and had to pay $10,000 in bail. 

"She had no knowledge or involvement in the alleged illegal activities for which she was charged," the statement of claim said. 

She is seeking damages for pain and suffering, mental distress, loss of income and loss of liberty and freedom of movement. 

The case is back in Supreme Court on Oct. 8 for a pre-trial conference.

When contacted by CBC, Rees said his client had no comment on the proceeding.

The Department of Justice also said in a statement it would not comment on a case that is before the courts.