This Tuesday, Ontario’s court fight to retain $40 million in assets seized from one of the biggest illegal sports betting rings in Canada has begun. The focus of the debate would be how approximately $270k ended up in a Mississauga man’s bedroom.
The man’s lawyer argues that there is no proof that his client, Dimitris Kellesis, is linked to the sports betting ring, and he has a reasonable explanation for the wads of money found in his home. A lawyer for the Attorney General’s Department stated that Kellesis’ connection to the alleged gambling ring means that the province should keep the assets.
Ontario Struggles to Keep Seized Assets Under Forfeiture Law
This Tuesday, the first out of several hearings in which the province seeks to keep the seized assets from the illegal sports betting ring took place. After the two-hour hearing, Justice Michael Dineen decided to postpone judgment.
According to Canada’s civil forfeiture law, provincial governments are allowed to seize and transfer ownership of assets obtained from illegal activities. The forfeiture law has deterred the number of illegal activities in the country.
At a Supreme Court hearing, Attorney Susan Keenan claimed that the huge amount of cash found in the man’s bedroom was derived from illegal activities. But Kellesis’ lawyer, Luci Brace, said that there is no proof linking her client to the illegal sports betting ring.
She added that Kellesis is a legitimate owner of the money which came from gifts, loan repayments, and savings over years of work in a family raised to distrust banks. Ms. Brace explained that Kellesis was born in communist Czechoslovakia and his family had a distrust of authority.
Crackdown on One of the Largest Illegal Sports Betting Rings in Canada Fizzles Out in Court
In 2019, police seized guns, gold, cash, vehicles, homes, and other assets as part of a two-year investigation into a suspected online sports betting ring that police say was controlled by members of the Hells Angels. As a result of the operation called Project Hobart, the Ontario Provincial Police laid over 200 charges against dozens of suspects, with Dimitris Kellesis being one of them.
Documents filed earlier to retain the assets reveal that investigators began observing the man’s house in Mississauga in October 2018 and noticed that Kellesis was showing up on a daily basis to lock and unlock the doors. A man was visiting Kellesis to exchange bags and bring the profits to organization leaders.
Police explained that the ring operated 14 sports betting sites and generated a revenue of $160 million over six months. But the existence of the allegedly illegal sports betting ring has not been proved in court and most charges were withdrawn.