Abbotsford businessman to fight civil forfeiture

An Abbotsford restaurant owner whose home and property have become the subject of a civil forfeiture claim said he will fight the matter in court.

Mario Facchin said he and his wife, Elena, were not involved in the marijuana grow operation that was discovered by police in a barn on their 4.4-acre property in April and, therefore, they did not profit from the proceeds of crime.

Civil forfeiture involves the government applying to court to obtain property it claims was used for, or benefited from, criminal activity.

If a judge decides a property must be forfeited, it can then be sold and the proceeds used for victim compensation, crime prevention activities and other matters.

“I just want people to know that I’m not a grower,” said Facchin, the owner of the Rendezvous Restaurant on Mt. Lehman Road. (The business has no connection to the Rendezvous Restaurant on Immel Street.)

The couple purchased the Huntingdon Road property in November 2007 for $1.25 million. Facchin said they made the purchase using money from the sale of their former home as well as their previous establishment, Crossroads Restaurant on Sumas Way which he ran for 30 years.

Facchin said he wanted a larger property to start a pre-fabricated home business, which later folded due to the economic downturn.

The property had two homes – one which the Facchins lived in, and another which they rented out, along with a barn.

Abbotsford Police busted the property on April 1, 2011 and seized 600 marijuana plants and growing equipment from the barn.

Facchin was at work at the time and was alerted by a phone call from police that he should return to his property. He was arrested on scene when he arrived, and was later released.

Another man was also arrested and released. No charges have yet been laid in the case.

The civil forfeiture claim was filed last Friday, and Facchin said he did not know about it until reading an article in The News on Tuesday.

He had put his house on the market – listed for $1.65 million – about two weeks ago because he no longer needs it for the pre-fab business.

Facchin said it is unfair that the government is trying to take his property, and he is worried that the situation has damaged his reputation as a moral, upstanding businessman.

“I work very hard in this town,” he said.

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