Province, accused bike thief settle case
BY ANTHONY REINHART
Globe and Mail, December. 4, 2009
Ontario has settled its civil suit to seize used-bicycle dealer Igor
Kenk's assets, paving the way for the disposal of nearly 2,200 bikes
that went unclaimed after a series of high-profile police raids in the
summer of 2008.
Since then, the bicycles, most of them old junkers, have been stored in
the former Heydon Park Secondary School in the city's west end. The old
school will soon be demolished to make way for Toronto Police's new 14
Division headquarters, home to the same investigators who led the raids
on Mr. Kenk's rented storage garages after arresting him near his Queen
Street West bike shop.
“It's the province's problem now,” Superintendent Ruth White, commander
of 14 Division, said of the cache of bikes and parts, after the
settlement was approved Friday by Mr. Justice Craig Perkins.
The Attorney-General's Ministry launched the forfeiture proceeding
under the Civil Remedies Act, which aims to return proceeds of crime to
the public, within weeks of Mr. Kenk's arrest in July of 2008. It was
seeking to seize and sell Mr. Kenk's bike shop, two pickup trucks and
the roughly 2,200 used bicycles left over after nearly 600 additional
bikes were reclaimed by previous owners at a series of open houses.
The province claimed the assets, valued in court filings at more than
$750,000, were either obtained through or used as instruments of
unlawful activity, namely a scheme in which Mr. Kenk allegedly paid a
network of 10 to 15 thieves to bring him bikes in exchange for drugs.
Following his arrest, police raided 12 properties, most of them
back-alley garages Mr. Kenk had rented in the city's west end, and
seized the bicycles along with significant amounts of marijuana and
cocaine. Mr. Kenk was charged with dozens of stolen-property counts
related to the bicycles and with possession of drugs for trafficking
He obtained bail in August of 2008, but it was revoked last December
after he visited one of his rental garages and landed in a
confrontation with its new owners. He was accused of swinging a piece
of copper plumbing pipe, charged with assault and put in the Don Jail,
where he remains.
Mr. Kenk, 50, has yet to see a resolution to any of the criminal
counts, but that did not deter the province from invoking the
relatively new and little-known Civil Remedies Act in a bid to seize
his property. Had the civil case gone to trial, the government would
have had to prove only on a balance of probabilities – not beyond a
reasonable doubt, as required under criminal law – that the property
was obtained by or used to commit crime.
Friday's settlement was reached before the court could test the
government's case, which hinged on affidavits from Toronto police who
led the criminal investigation. Court filings showed that officers
relied on a confidential source for information about Mr. Kenk's
alleged drugs-for-bikes enterprise. Court never heard testimony from
the source, nor does the case file contain any written statements from
Details of the settlement were not disclosed in court Friday, and
lawyers for the Attorney-General and Mr. Kenk declined to elaborate on
the deal outside court.
Jacob Stilman, lawyer for Mr. Kenk, said the government's forfeiture
application “was going into uncharted legal waters in the sense of
asserting that the building was an instrument of criminal activity.” He
suggested “there would have been a lot of interesting legal and
evidentiary issues” had the case gone to trial, but also serious
implications for his client, who stood to lose virtually everything he
“While it's fascinating from a lawyer's perspective,” Mr. Stilman said,
“the stakes are very high for the person at the receiving end of the
According to court filings, Mr. Kenk paid $85,000 for his shop in 1995
and is mortgage-free. Its value has since skyrocketed due to
gentrification along trendy Queen Street West, to as much as $700,000,
according to court documents. The bicycles were recently appraised at
just over $50,000, and the two Toyota pickup trucks at $14,000.
A handcuffed Mr. Kenk appeared briefly in court this week for a
scheduled bail review hearing, but his criminal lawyer, Lon Rose, asked
for an adjournment to Dec. 11. Mr. Rose recently told court that a
resolution of the criminal charges is in the works.