Canadian poker play Ha Van Nguyen is fighting for the return of his poker bankroll after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police confiscated it in connection with alleged drug use.
Here is what I learned, today.
If you are driving through the Canadian province of New Brunswick and the Mounties start following you. Don’t throw a bag out of your window containing $10,700 in vacuum sealed bags. It looks slightly suspicious.
At 2 am on Nov 20, 2015, that’s what poker player Ha Van Nguyen did when being followed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), after turning away from a checkpoint, and 16-months later he still hasn’t seen or touched it.
The officer who pulled Nguyen over that night told the courts that he did so because he could smell marijuana coming from the truck. Nguyen did possess a small amount of weed, and he told the court that’s why he threw the money out of the car.
The officer found the bag and the money and confiscated it along with two cell phones and a further $180 in loose change. The Mountie didn’t only get his man; he got everything he owned.
Nguyen told the officer that the money was his poker bankroll and he was driving home from a night at the tables. The New Brunswick, Civil Forfeiture Act, allows officers to seize money and possessions if they believe it’s connected with illegal drug activity or some other felon.
The poker player swore the money didn’t come from drugs. It came from poker. Unfortunately, for Nguyen, his rap sheet showed that in 2006 he was sentenced to six months in prison for growing marijuana and was charged with similar offences in 2015.
But that’s not the best part.
The most laughable part of this tale is the court’s decision to order tests on the money to prove there was a drug connection. It’s as pointless as showering a Dan Bilzerian female house guest with a fluorescent light trying to search for semen stains.
Of course, the test results proved positive. The money contained minute traces of cocaine and heroin. It also contained traces of explosives – Dan Bilzerian again – and I have no doubt; blood, semen, and MRSA.
In February, Judge Mary Jane Richards ordered that the Mounties return the money to Nguyen’s lawyer until the matter is finalised in court. That hasn’t happened.
Fortunately, Ha Van Nguyen has managed to pay the bills by winning over $40,000 in live tournament earnings since the Mountie stole from him. He finished 13th at the Season XV World Poker Tour (WPT) Canadian Spring Championship Main Event for $12,173 and beat 301 entrants to take down the $30,171 first prize at the Atlantic Canada’s Poker Championship.
Nguyen faces no criminal charges in connection with the 2015 incident, but that doesn’t prevent the Crown from seizing his money.
By all accounts the New Brunswick RCMP Christmas Party was a right hoot.
The case continues.