Lake Cowichan man guilty after $2.6 million chucked overboard

Money laundering: sentencing date pending after guilty verdict in 2011 incident off south Vancouver Island coast

Cpl. Paul Minkley

Your typical money laundering case doesn’t usually include more than $2 million actually immersed in water.

But that is exactly what happened in the case of a Lake Cowichan man found guilty in a Victoria courthouse earlier this month.

A sentencing date awaits Jeffrey Melchior, who was convicted  May 2 of money laundering and possession of property obtained by crime, Crown spokeswomen Sujata Raisinghani told the News Leader Pictorial via email from Ottawa.

Melchior is not in custody while awaiting sentencing and Crown declined to comment about penalties his charges could carry.

His conviction follows an adventure akin to a Hollywood movie.

November 2011 saw the tightest police security ever seen at RCMP headquarters in Victoria as Mounties announced they’d seized more than US $2.6 million in one of Canada’s largest seizures of laundered money.

RCMP Supt. Derek Simmonds, of B.C.’s federal Border Integrity program, said the money was fished from waters near Sidney in March 2011.

That nighttime haul happened after the pilot of a suspicious, fast-moving boat — without running lights — tossed a suitcase overboard as an RCMP patrol boat was about to intercept it.

After recovering the suitcase, police arrested Melchior, then 44. He was charged with possession of property obtained by crime and laundering proceeds of crime. The recovered bundles of bills were wrapped in plastic.

Melchior offered two explanations when he was stopped: first, that he was scouting dive sites; then that he was on his way to meet a woman.

“Neither explanation made any sense,” Victoria’s Times Colonist quoted Crown lawyer Sharon Steele telling the court earlier this month.

Judge Ernie Quantz said criminal activity was the logical explanation for Melchior’s presence in a small vessel travelling without lights near the Canada-U.S. border, in an area known for smuggling activity, the Colonist says.

In April, Judge Quantz issued a 24-page decision on matters of evidence. He said Melchior was properly detained and questioned, his rights weren’t breached when his mobile device was searched without a warrant, and the messages were admissible.

Text messages recovered from his mobile device recounted a conversation between him and someone in the U.S. expressing concern about “bikes” and “birds” – possibly referring to coast guard boats and helicopters, the Colonist reports.

Simmonds said the five-metre, rigid-hull, inflatable boat was just two nautical miles – six minutes – away from the U.S. border when police intercepted it. Melchior was unarmed, unknown to police, and was the only person aboard.

If it hadn’t been for Melchior allegedly moving at high speed toward the international border, on a route known to smugglers, the RCMP’s border-integrity operations centre might have missed his boat, Simmonds said.

The centre relayed the suspicious information to an RCMP marine patrol, he said, and it cut off Melchior’s craft before it reached the border. There was no high-speed pursuit.

Simmonds said moving currency or contraband in large sums, such as the soggy cash recovered, is a common identifier for organized-crime activity.

Once the case ends, the $2.6 million will be diverted to the federal government’s general revenues, Simmonds said.

 

Just Posted

Piano, guitar music wafts through St. Mike’s in ‘From Spanish to Pastiche’

Andrei and Jannie Burdeti combine their talents for a delightful afternoon of music in Chemainus

Andrea Rondeau column: Holiday weekend delivers letters

It occurred to me that this was just giving me a taste of what Santa must go through every year.

Sarah Simpson Column: Kids’ Christmas is going to the dogs

I enjoy long weekends because of the extra family time they offer,… Continue reading

Duncan Lions and friends step up with irrigation system for Providence Farm kitchen garden

Duncan Lions Club members were busy out at Providence Farm, both having… Continue reading

Cowichan Cougars battle back to tie Vic West

Change of formation allows Cougars to draw even

VIDEO: B.C. couple creates three-storey ‘doggie mansion’ for their five pups

Group of seven, who Kylee Ryan has dubbed as the ‘wandering paws,’ have a neat setup in Jade City

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Family of B.C. man killed in hit-and-run plead for tips, one year later

Cameron Kerr’s family says the driver and passengers tried to cover their tracks

Princeton couple pays for dream vacation with 840,000 grocery store points

It’s easy if you know what you are doing, they say

Chilliwack family’s dog missing after using online pet-sitting service

Frankie the pit bull bolted and hit by a car shortly after drop off through Rover.com

B.C. wildlife experts urge hunters to switch ammo to stop lead poisoning in birds

OWL, in Delta, is currently treating two eagles for lead poisoning

B.C. First Nations drop out of court challenge, sign deals with Trans Mountain

Upper Nicola Band says deal represents a ‘significant step forward’

Most Read