Canadian Sues to Keep $1 Million Found in Rental Car

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is blocking a Canadian man’s legal bid to claim nearly $1 million U.S. in cash that Las Vegas police found in the trunk of his rented car.

Police found the money after the man was pulled over for speeding last summer.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is blocking the Canadian man’s claim. The U.S. Attorney says evidence suggests the Canadian—B.C. resident Michael Simard—was somehow involved in smuggling drugs or transporting drug money.

American authorities say the confiscated money should be formally forfeited to the U.S. government and divided among the agencies involved in the seizure, even though Simard has not been charged with any crime and was permitted to return to Canada days after the incident last August. The discovered cash included 50,000 $20 bills jammed into a duffle bag and suitcase.

Under U.S. law, the legal struggle over the mystery million gets a case designation that names the money as the defendant: “United States of America v. $999,830 in U.S. Currency.”

After being pulled over on Aug. 7, 2008 by Nevada Highway Patrol Sgt. Eric Kemmer, Simard produced his B.C. driver’s license and a Hertz rental agreement covering a one-way trip from St. Louis to Las Vegas.

The complaint states that Simard’s use of a rental car, the presence of two cell phones and two GPS tracking devices and other items in the car are common indicators of illegal contraband, drugs, or money smugglers, and Kemmer began to suspect Simard of being a drug smuggler, the complaint states.

“We’ve filed the complaint. That's as far as it’s gone right now,” said Natalie Collins, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Las Vegas.

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