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Monday, May 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Canadian Detention Called a Favor to U.S.

VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) - A U.S. citizen indicted for his alleged role in an online gambling ring claims in court that the Canadian government illegally detained him to seek information to share with Queens County, N.Y. District Attorney's "tenuous case" against him.

Stanley Howard Tomchin sued Her Majesty the Queen and Canada's Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in the Federal Court of Canada on Oct. 16.

He claims his rights against self-incrimination and unreasonable search and seizure were violated when he was detained at Vancouver airport in June.

Tomchin says he visits Canada regularly and has "strong communal ties to Vancouver" as a member of a "social and athletic club" in the city. He calls himself an "entrepreneur operating mainly in the area of licensed internet gaming and options, but also in real estate development," in addition to being a "generous philanthropist."

Tomchin was indicted in New York in October 2012, accused of offering online gambling services to American gamblers and laundering the proceeds. According to his lawsuit, he was allowed to travel internationally under his bail conditions, but "acting on 'a tip,'" the defendants' agents detained and interrogated him to determine if he was "criminally inadmissible to Canada."

Tomchin claims the defendants' "ulterior purpose" was to share information with the District Attorney and the New York Police Department "in an attempt to provide the District Attorney leverage in what were at the time their ongoing plea negotiations with the plaintiff."

He claims the indictment was resolved on July 29 this year when he pleaded to a class B misdemeanor, resulting in a conditional discharge, the equivalent of a summary conviction offence in Canada, which still allows him to travel to Canada.

But under Canadian law, the complaint states, "in stark contrast" to U.S. law, people can be compelled to give evidence which may self-incriminate them, such as in immigration and refugee proceedings, and "the state offers protection against the subsequent use of this evidence in criminal and quasi-criminal proceedings."

Compulsion to give self-incriminating evidence in the past has dealt with domestic criminal cases, whereas Tomchin's case "involves the propriety of compulsion when that compulsion is in aid of or is potentially incriminating in a foreign criminal proceeding," according to the complaint.

Tomchin claims the Canada Border Services Agency's investigation was to aid the Queens, N.Y. District Attorney.

"Were there genuine immigration concerns about whether the plaintiff was inadmissible to Canada or whether his presence in Canada posed some threat to the safety of the Canadian public, CBSA officers could simply have permitted him to withdraw his application to enter Canada," the complaint states. "To the contrary, in pursuit of an ultra vires purpose the CBSA defendants questioned the plaintiff at length about the outstanding U.S. allegations and then shared this compelled information with U.S. law enforcement."

Tomchin seeks damages for breach of his rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and an injunction prohibiting the Canada Border Services Agency from disclosing information compelled from him with "any law enforcement authority in Canada, or abroad."

He is represented by David J. Martin and Tamara Duncan with Martin + Associates in Vancouver.

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