Reporter investigated for buying pot undercover
Published Sunday, July 29, 2012 2:34PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, July 29, 2012 2:50PM EDT
A Kelowna news reporter is under criminal investigation after buying drugs while undercover for a story he was working on.
Kelly Hayes of Castanet Media filmed his sting operation with a hidden camera while he bought marijuana.
He was looking into the allegations of Anna Stein, that her upstairs neighbour in their Kelowna-owned apartment building was dealing drugs.
Stein had been gathering her own evidence, recording hours of video surveillance and filing log books with details of frequent, short visits to the neighbour’s upstairs apartment.
“People won’t believe if you just tell, so you have to show,” Stein told CTV British Columbia.
She presented her case to her tenancy branch, the city and the RCMP.
The tenancy branch ruled against her. The RCMP suggested she take her claims to the media. The city wrote Stein a letter, notifying her that the matter had been turned over to police -- and accidentally sent the letter to the upstairs apartment.
By that point, Hayes was involved and he began to worry that Stein was in danger.
“Alarm bells went off immediately and I thought ‘This lady’s safety is in jeopardy’.”
Hayes decided he would try and get his own proof that drugs were being sold in the apartment above Stein’s.
So he went, undercover, and recorded audio of his conversation with a woman in the second floor unit.
“My heart was pumping out of my chest,” said Hayes. “I was nervous.”
The woman was reluctant at first.
On the tape Hayes can be heard asking, "Do I look like a cop?"
A woman’s voice can be heard replying, “Fine, fine… Give me your money.”
Afterwards, Hayes spoke into the camera in the parking lot outside while holding up a plastic bag.
"We just made a purchase of what appears to be a few grams of marijuana,” he said.
Hayes took the bag and the tape to police. But instead of being praised for his efforts, the police said he had not only put himself at risk, he may have interfered with their investigation. And, he was now the focus of a criminal investigation.
“That is not right,” Stein said.
After a subsequent RCMP raid, the woman whose voice Hayes recorded has now been charged and is moving out. She and three others are accused of trafficking and possession.
The woman admitted to CTV British Columbia that she was selling marijuana to make ends meet.
“I had a small business going, and my car broke, my kid lost his job and I needed to make some money for rent,” she said.
Stein said she is just happy with the outcome.
“I’m very pleased,” she said.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Kent Molgat