Sometimes possession is 9/10ths of the law

By David F. Rooney

Take two guys stopped by the Mounties on the Trans-Canada Highway, $15,000 in cash and a small quantity of grass and what do you get?

A mishmash of lies, half truths and who knows what else as the two men each tried to claim the money was rightfully theirs after the Crown could not prove the moolah was the proceed of a criminal offence.

Like an episode out of a TV court drama, Yoaz Gezaw and Idris Arado — both of Vancouver — each laid claim to the wad of bills RCMP found in Arado’s jacket when the two men were stopped on the TCH on June 19, 2007. During the stop, Mounties also found three small bags of marijuana worth, at most, according to lawyer Chris Johnson, a few hundred bucks. The $15,000 cash could have been forfeit to the Crown if police and prosecutors had been able to prove that it was the result of a criminal transactionl. But despite their suspicions they couldn’t make that kind of connection.

“Neither man had the means to legitimately acquire this sum,” Provincial Judge Mark Takahashi said as he rendered a judgement on the true ownership of the money on Thursday.

In court Gezaw produced photos of some of the dogs he rears with a large sum of money. He also claimed he put the cash inside Arrado’s jacket when he briefly wore it sometime before the two men were stopped. Then he claimed he and Arado won it at casino.

Arado’s mother said in a sworn affidavit that her son told her he won $25,000 at a casino in July, but the casino’s records showed he won a large amount of money on June 1.

So where did it come from? In the end, it didn’t matter that neither man was entirely credible or that the money might or might not have been entirely clean. Judge Takahashi ruled that the money was most likely Arado’s. A fact that had Gezaw complaining bitterly, publicly and at length, using lots of F-bombs, to Johnston as Arado drove off with his own lawyer and a glowering sheriff stood watch to ensure nothing untoward happened.