Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Nice Harley, but biker wants it back

Buyers discover it once belonged to ex-Hells boss

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It seemed like a steal of a deal. But now they're suffering from a case of buyer's remorse.

A Canadian couple say they were stunned to learn a Harley-Davidson they bought for cheap at an auction most recently belonged to the former president of the Manitoba Hells Angels.

And the fact jailed outlaw Dale Sweeney wants his bike back -- he's just filed a lawsuit claiming an illegal seizure of his assets -- has left them feeling they might have been better just taking a pass.

"Oops," the owners said this week when asked for their initial response to learning about the history of the motorcycle.

"We're now wondering what should be done with it. We know we're the legal owners, but because the bike is very distinctive it would be recognized," they said.

The Free Press is not publishing the couple's name, or even their hometown or province, because of the safety concerns they've expressed.

The wife says her husband went to the auction fully expecting just to be a spectator. But a shiny 1999 Harley Dyna Super GL Sport caught his eye, and when the bidding opened at $6,800 he just couldn't resist.

Moments later, he was the proud new owner for the low price of $6,802.

"I kind of think of him as the owner by default... or stupidity," his wife cracked.

After making the purchase, the couple began doing some research about the history of the motorcycle. Auction staff told them it had come from Manitoba and been part of an asset seizure. They figured perhaps it once belonged to someone who went bankrupt -- certainly not someone involved in the world's most notorious biker gang.

Their jaws collectively dropped last month when they found out Sweeney was the previous owner -- and read a Free Press story about a lawsuit he'd just filed against Crown prosecutors and police.

Sweeney, 43, is suing the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, the City of Winnipeg, RCMP and the attorney general, hoping to reclaim $850,000 in property he agreed to forfeit to the state as part of a plea arrangement for his role in a cocaine-trafficking ring.

Sweeney's assets were frozen following his 2012 arrest in Project Flatlined, a Winnipeg police crackdown of a large dial-a-dealer operation. He is currently serving 11 years in prison but claims he was the victim of potential extortion under terms of the plea deal he struck.

His lawyer, Stephan Thliveris, said last month the government shouldn't have been allowed to seize property he claims had nothing to do with his client's illegal activity. None of the civil claims has been proven and the matter remains before the courts.

Now the couple who bought his motorcycle said they'll be watching the proceedings closely. If they decide to keep the bike, they plan to make some modifications to change its appearance.

www.mikeoncrime.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 12, 2014 A3

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