A Winnipeg man is accused of deliberately dragging out legal proceedings to avoid extradition on U.S. criminal charges that could keep him behind bars for decades.
Shaun Sunduk, 39, appeared in a Winnipeg courtroom Tuesday with federal prosecutors, who were hoping to set dates for a formal hearing to determine his fate.
Instead, defence lawyer Dan Manning announced his client is thinking about firing him and needed another adjournment.
That didn’t sit well with Queen’s Bench Justice Robert Dewar, who noted Sunduk dismissed a previous lawyer earlier this year.
Dewar suggested the lawyer changes are starting to look like a stalling tactic and gave Sunduk a deadline of Aug. 11 to either keep Manning or find another lawyer. Dates will then be set for the extradition hearing.
RCMP arrested Sunduk on March 8 at his home in Grande Pointe on the southern outskirts of Winnipeg. They were executing a warrant obtained by federal justice officials in New York who were dealing with a cross-border drug-smuggling case.
None of the allegations have been proven against Sunduk, who has no previous criminal record.
He spent a few days in custody before being released on strict bail conditions, which included not leaving Manitoba and turning his passport over to police.
Sunduk faces charges of trafficking and conspiracy, which each carry maximum sentences of 20 years in prison. He was snagged in a 2009 undercover sting by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, along with several other accused people from the United States.
Police seized a large quantity of ecstasy and about 100,000 pills of a synthetic recreational drug called BZP from a Canadian man named Richard Hansen, who was allegedly associated with Sunduk.
Hansen, 24, has pleaded guilty in a U.S. court to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and is awaiting sentencing.
Hansen was arrested during an August 2009 traffic stop in Roseau County, Minn., just south of the Canadian border. He was driving a rented car with a Manitoba licence plate and Minnesota state police found a quantity of drugs stuffed in Ziploc bags.
Police said Hansen told them he was driving the shipment to New York, where he would be paid US$150,000 by an unknown person. He said he was being paid $15,000 for the trip.
Court documents indicate Hansen has agreed to be a witness for the prosecution against Sunduk, who allegedly organized the shipment.
This article was written by Mike McIntyre and published by The Winnipeg Free Press on August 3, 2011.
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