A big-time methamphetamine dealer and high-stakes poker player registered his ute under the name John Doe to avoid it being seized by the police. He was unsuccessful.
Shane Tamihana also had a house in Flaxmere, Hastings, in the name of a long-term gambling buddy. He has lost that too.
An order issued by the High Court this week seized the ute, the house, and cash and bank deposits totalling more than $90,000 obtained through Tamihana’s criminal activities, under the Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act.
The act allows the police to go after assets that criminals have accumulated through their wrongdoing and apply to have them forfeited to the Crown.
Tamihana, also known as Shane Thompson, was jailed for 13 years in 2018 for methamphetamine dealing. He is not eligible to be considered for parole before November 2024.
At the time he was sentenced he was described as the top man in an organised crime network which had pushed $4.2m worth of meth into the Hawke’s Bay region over an 11-month period in 2016 and 2017.
Police found a further 2.6kg of the drug at the home of his co-offender, Petera Gamlen, and more than $170,000 total in cash at the two men’s houses.
When not drug dealing, Tamihana had considerable success at the gaming tables, winning the main event at the Sky City casino Festival of Poker in 2016.
He had reportedly earned more than $100,000 from gambling over two years, and was known for his aggressive playing and his habit of exclaiming “Later Bo” as he forced his opponents to fold.
But he has now been outplayed by the police Asset Recovery Unit, who went after the riches he gained from his criminal activities.
The latest forfeitures come on top of a series of seizures in 2018, which took five vehicles and $130,000 from Tamihana and Gamlen, who is currently serving a sentence of 11 years and three months in jail.
Detective Sergeant Alex Macdonald of the Asset Recovery Unit concedes that this week’s final forfeitures of Tamihana’s gains have been “a long time coming”.
But he said they showed the unit’s ability to “work through layers to identify assets being hidden in nominees’ names on behalf of criminals”.
The Flaxmere house had been held in the name of Tamihana’s long-time associate and fellow gambler, Michael Allison.
But Justice David Gendall found that it was “more likely than not” that the house was purchased in Allison’s name on behalf of Tamihana and was therefore “tainted property” subject to seizure.
Macdonald said the actions targeting Tamihana were also aimed more broadly at organised criminal groups.
“Mr Tamihana is linked to the Mongrel Mob and his offending involved a number of patched members, some of which also had property forfeited to the Crown,” he said.
“The Asset Recovery Unit will continue to target organised criminal groups in the Hawke’s Bay community and seize their cash and assets where illegally gained.”
In relation to the 2006 Toyota Hilux under the name of John Doe, Macdonald said it was not common to see vehicles registered in false names in a bid to avoid seizure.
More often, he said, they are registered in a family member’s name, or simply left in the previous owner’s. Sometimes people know their name has been used for a criminal’s car registration, sometimes they don’t.
However, Macdonald said he had seen a few other vehicles registered in made-up names.
Examples included “B Power” and “Jack Pott”.