More than $10,000 was forfeited to the Crown in a drug trafficking case against former Yellowknife mixed martial arts fighter Todd Vatcher.
In September 2020, Vatcher pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.
When his Ciara Manor apartment was searched in 2018, police found approximately 28 grams of cocaine along with $10,350 in cash.
Vatcher was scheduled to return to court on Nov. 9 2020 for a sentencing hearing, but died of a suspected overdose Oct. 23.
In a court hearing on June 28, Crown prosecutor Morgan Fane applied to have the cash forfeited and the charges against Vatcher dropped. Justice Shannon Smallwood agreed that the money was offence related and granted the forfeiture.
Fane argued that the money was either obtained through the illicit sale of drugs or intended to purchase more drugs for future sale, or possibly both. As the drugs and the money were found under the mattress of Vatcher’s one-bedroom apartment, Fane argued the two were being held together for a common, criminal purpose.
As a result, he said the money was not owed to Vatcher’s next of kin, his mother, who was given notice of the June 28 judicial proceeding but she did not attend. No one else seems to have a valid interest in Vatcher’s estate.
As evidence, Fane provided Smallwood with a video of a walk-through of Vatcher’s apartment on the day it was searched. Seeing the clothes, food and other items “strewn about,” Smallwood said it was clear someone had taken care to hide the cocaine and cash under the mattress in an apartment she said was otherwise messy, proving the money was obtained by crime or intended for illicit purposes.
Once seized, RCMP will turn the cash over to the federal Seized Property Management Directorate, though the GNWT is entitled to a portion of the proceeds proportional to the cost of territorial policing responsible for the property’s seizure.
The percentage of the funds returned to the territorial government depends on the percentage of the investigation funded by the territory. That figure is not immediately known in this case.
Once they receive their portion of the proceeds, the GNWT puts the funds towards crime prevention programming, “thereby using illicit profits of crime to help prevent further crime in our communities,” Ngan Trinh, spokesperson for the Department of Justice, explained.
In February 2020, Vatcher won top prize at the Fight For Her charity kickboxing event.
He had struggled with addiction in the past and had been caught with cocaine, cash, marijuana and fentanyl in a 2015 drug bust.
The circumstances of Vatcher’s death were not discussed in court, however Beau Desire-Tesar, a friend to Vatcher who was arrested in 2018 for stealing firearms, spent his own sentencing hearing in November mourning Vatcher.
Stating his commitment to pursue a career in addictions counselling following his sentence, Desire-Tesar told the court at the time that he was sick of drugs and had just lost his friend to drugs, referring to Vatcher.