Monday, 23 January 2012

Former Hells Angels leader sues wrong government for seizing home


The former leader of the Manitoba Hells Angels says he's been the victim of a crime — the government allegedly stole his house. Ernie Dew has filed a unique civil lawsuit, claiming his property in St. Andrews, Man., was illegally seized and sold following his arrest on drug charges. Dew, 53, seeks unspecified financial damages. "The government has misused and/or exceeded the power of its public office," says a statement of claim filed in Court of Queen's Bench. "This was a reckless, wanton and egregious disregard of his rights." There's just one small problem with Dew's lawsuit, which was specifically filed against the provincial government. "It wasn't us that seized his house," a provincial spokesperson told the Winnipeg Free Press Tuesday afternoon. It was the federal government who took action, meaning Dew's lawsuit will likely fall quickly. He would have the option of re-filing it and naming Ottawa in the lawsuit. The provincial government did seize the Hells Angels clubhouse two years ago, which the spokesman said may have left Dew confused. But they had absolutely no role in the seizing of his property. Dew, 52, was convicted at trial last year of cocaine trafficking and possession of goods obtained by crime stemming from a 2006 arrest. He is to be sentenced on Jan. 18. However, Dew was acquitted of another drug-related offence that specifically involved selling his home. Dew claims — wrongly, as it turns out — the provincial government's criminal forfeiture unit jumped the gun by taking possession of his property under proceeds of crime legislation. "This was misfeasance of public office," Dew claims. He says the government is guilty of "conversion, trespass to chattels, unjust enrichment, misfeasance of public office and negligence," Dew never denied getting involved in several illegal transactions, but offered a unique explanation for his actions at trial. He claimed he only agreed to sell drugs to his friend, Franco Atanasovic, because the man said he was deep in debt and desperate for money to pay back several people who were after him. Atanasovic was working at the time as a police agent and helped capture the deals on audio and video. Dew insists he never made a cent from the transactions and was simply acting as a middle man between Atanasovic and the drug supplier — and a peacemaker between those looking to collect from Atanasovic. Dew said Atanasovic was in trouble and began pestering him at work, eventually convincing him to set up three different drug deals. The deals were done at Dew's workplace, while a fourth one allegedly happened at his home just north of Winnipeg. Dew always insisted he had nothing to do with that one, which he was ultimately found not guilty of and which is now the subject of his lawsuit. The judge found Dew was away hunting at the time a kilogram of cocaine was exchanged between Hells associate Jerome Labossiere and Dew's wife, Vera. Both Labossiere and Dew's wife ultimately pleaded guilty for their roles in that transaction. "My house would be the last place I'd do a drug deal. That would be grounds to have my home seized. I've seen it happen before," Dew told court.

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