The B.C. government is using civil forfeiture laws to go after the money made by the owner of a downtown Vancouver penthouse when he allegedly held an illegal nightclub in his suite.
Mohammad Movassaghi, 42, was arrested in January after police found about 80 people packed into his 1,100 square foot apartment, which had menus, tables and cash registers.
Vancouver police handed out more than $17,000 in fines and now the province has confirmed it is going after the money and equipment seized that night.
“I think it certainly sends a message to people who are engaged in illegal activity,” B.C. Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth said Thursday.
“There are public health orders out there for reasons to keep people safe, and at the same time if you think that ignoring them is just going to get you a ticket, there can be other consequences that flow from your decision”
In addition to the civil forfeiture action, Movassaghi is facing two charges of failing to comply with the orders of a health officer and unlawfully purchasing grain alcohol.
He is scheduled to appear in court later this month.
Police allege that they had received at least six complaints about the unit in January, and first attended on Jan. 23.
When guests arrived at what Vancouver police described as the “makeshift nightclub” they were told to remove their shoes to prevent making noise.
Exotic dancers were spinning on a stripper pole that ran from the second floor down to the first in the three-level suite. There was a DJ booth and bartenders making and serving drinks available for purchase.
Spotlights and “mood lighting” gave the room the look of a club that would normally be packed in Yaletown or on the Granville Strip any given weekend before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
None of the 50 to 100 people “standing shoulder to shoulder” inside were wearing masks.
These and other details are included in a search warrant application filed in Vancouver Provincial Court early in the morning on Jan. 31, which was obtained by Global News in early February.
Movassaghi’s lawyer, Bobby Movassaghi, has said the allegations against his client are unproven and will not comment further until more information is given by prosecutors.