The Ontario government wants used-bicycle dealer Igor Kenk to foot the bill - estimated at $38,700 - to get rid of nearly 2,200 bikes police seized in a theft investigation last year, even though no court has ruled they were stolen.
The province's request, contained in a motion to be heard in civil court Friday, appears aimed at solving a logistical headache for Toronto police, who face deadline of next Thursday to clear the bicycles from a rented storage facility.
The 2,196 bicycles, along with 565 wheels and 51 assorted parts, have been collecting dust since they were seized in a series of high-profile police raids in July and August of 2008. Police allege Mr. Kenk, 50, ran a network in which he sent thieves out to steal bikes for him in exchange for illegal drugs.
After Mr. Kenk's arrest, police put the seized bicycles on public display and returned more than 500 of them to their previous owners. The remainder went unclaimed, and have sat in storage as two parallel court proceedings unfolded: one involving dozens of criminal charges related to stolen bicycles and illegal drugs; the other a Civil Remedies Act suit, launched by the province, to seize and sell Mr. Kenk's used-bike shop, pickup trucks and the remaining bicycles as proceeds or instruments of unlawful activity.
Both cases are still ongoing, and Mr. Kenk, in custody for almost a year now, has yet to be found criminally guilty in the first case or civilly liable in the second.
If the province wins its civil suit, Mr. Kenk would forfeit more than $750,000 in property, according to estimates contained in court filings. The money would be paid into court, where legal fees and other costs would be deducted, and the remainder would go to the government.
The unclaimed bicycles alone are worth $50,580, according to the motion to be heard today, but it would cost an estimated $38,709 to move and store them at an auction site, leaving just $11,871 from their sale to be paid into court. In effect, then, that $38,709 would be borne by Mr. Kenk, prior to any criminal or civil ruling against him.
To support their motion for an order to sell the bikes, lawyers for the Ministry of the Attorney-General cited an affidavit from the Toronto police officer who led the Kenk investigation. The officer, Detective-Constable Aaron Dennis, states that a "confidential source" told police about Mr. Kenk's drugs-for-bicycles theft network.
To date, the source has neither been named nor brought into court to testify in the civil case.
Mr. Kenk's criminal case, meanwhile, remains unresolved amid recent reports that a plea deal is in the works. He appeared briefly in court on Wednesday in what was expected to be a bid to win release on bail, but his lawyer, Lon Rose, instead asked for an adjournment until next Friday.