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News (Media Awareness Project) - Canada: Pot Growing Lottery Winner Fined
Title:Canada: Pot Growing Lottery Winner Fined
Published On:1998-06-11
Source:Toronto Star (Canada)
Fetched On:2008-09-07 08:35:52

LONDON, Ont. - A mechanic who won a $22.5 million lottery jackpot has been
fined $25,000 for growing marijuana in his basement.

Bernie Nauss, 60, won the Super 7 lottery this spring. Yesterday he pleaded
guilty to charges laid a year ago of cultivation and possession for the
purpose of trafficking of marijuana.

As well as being ordered to pay the fine to anti-addiction centres, he was
prohibited from possessing firearms for the next 10 years, and ordered to
perform 120 hours of community service.


Nauss had nearly 500 plants in his cellar, but ``presumably he doesn't need
to grow marijuana any more,'' Crown Attorney Dave Rowcliffe said.

The rural auto mechanic was gullible and hard up when he agreed to set up a
fairly sophisticated marijuana cultivating operation in his ramshackle farm
home, his lawyer, Joe Foreman argued in Ontario Court, provincial division.

``This marijuana escapade that he got into is frankly the most tragic thing
that he has ever done,'' Foreman told the court.

``He has never been involved in the drug trade and would not have been if
he had not listened to someone he thought had more brains than he did.''

Charges were dropped against Nauss' 36-year-old wife Kris, who hid her head
in her hands during the case.

Her husband, dressed in a denim shirt, non-descript pants and scuffed brown
shoes, appeared interested in the proceedings, but not particularly worried
and showed little emotion upon hearing the sentence.

The couple lives in Parkhill, 50 kilometres west of London. The plants
found throughout their basement were worth at least $123,500, and the
cultivation equipment was worth about $10,000, Rowcliffe said.

Foreman argued the value of the drugs and apparatus was worth considerably
less than the crown's estimate. Rowcliffe had argued for a jail term of
between three and six months.

``Certainly your present circumstances are very unusual,'' Judge Deborah
Livingstone said in passing the sentence.

The couple has given frequent and generous amounts to charity since the
windfall, but the money has brought them headaches as well as financial
comfort, Foreman said.

Nauss has faced ``absolutely shocking'' pressure from panhandling strangers
and members of the media, who think nothing of knocking on his door at all
hours, Foreman said.

Despite this, Nauss has remained a man of his rustic community, sticking
inside his long-time family home rather than escaping to some exotic island
retreat, Foreman said.

Earlier this spring, Nauss was convicted of having rifles improperly
stored, but Foreman said the guns had nothing to do with the basement crop.

``The .22 rifle was used to shoot varmints around the place,'' Foreman
said, arguing his clients weren't aware of recent changes to gun laws
calling for safer storage.

``They, quite frankly, don't read the papers to a large extent,'' Foreman

Checked-by: Mike Gogulski
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