B.C.'s Civil Forfeiture Office has a suspected Prince George drug dealer in its sights.
The office's director has filed a notice of claim seeking forfeiture of two homes in the city owned by Tyler Aaron James Gelowitz, claiming they were used to engage in unlawful activity.
Gelowitz faces five counts of trafficking in a controlled substance, along with one count each of possessing a controlled substance and possessing a loaded, restricted firearm without authorization.
The counts stem from an Aug. 1, 2019 arrest when Prince George RCMP's street crew unit executed search warrants on five homes, including two named in the notice at 2805 Parent Rd. and 6843 Fairmont Cres.
During the searches, police seized 1.3 kilograms of cocaine, 0.5 kg of methamphetamine, 200 grams of fentanyl and 28 grams of gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB). In addition, police seized a total of nine firearms, including two pistols, a silencer and $129,000 in cash.
According to B.C. Assessment, the Parent Road home is valued at $442,000 and the Fairmont Crescent home at $332,000. The office is also seeking $36,995 in cash seized by RCMP on the day of Gelowitz's arrest, as well as a satellite phone, a cellphone and a money counter.
Although she faces no criminal charges, Randi Alisia Lynn Temoin is also named in the notice of claim as a co-owner of the two homes.
The claim goes on to provide an account of observations made by RCMP during a series of searches, arrests and surveillance operations targeting Gelowitz and Temoin over the course of about two months leading up to the arrest.
The criminal matter remains before the court with Gelowitz scheduled to appear for arraignment in February after making a first appearance in November.
Even if Gelowitz is found not guilty, he and Temoin could still lose the properties, cash and items, according to a statement from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.
Because it's a civil proceeding, a judge decides on a balance of probabilities, in contrast to the more stringent standard of reasonable doubt for a criminal matter.
"Civil forfeiture actions do not depend on criminal charges or convictions," the statement says. "Even if a person is found not guilty of an offence or a charge is stayed, the Civil Forfeiture Office can still proceed with an action against the property associated to the unlawful activity."
Defendants can appear before the court in order to tell their side of the story, the statement adds.
The CFO does not initiate investigations on its own but rather relies on referrals from law enforcement agencies, which in turn are assessed on a number of factors, including the quality of the evidence, the fairness and proportionality of seeking forfeiture and the public interest in pursuing forfeiture, the statement also says.
The claim was filed on Dec. 14, 2020 and after Temoin filed an application on November 17 seeking return of $26,430 and the satellite phone.
Neither defendant has yet filed a response to the CFO's claim and the claims have not yet been tested in court.
Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen