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Bail denied to Ravinderjit Kaur Shergill


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Alleged drug smuggler stuck in jail

U.S. judge denies Ravinderjit Kaur Shergill bail despite father's offer

Kim Bolan and Amy O'Brian

Vancouver Sun

Friday, July 08, 2005

SEATTLE - A Vancouver woman with high-level political connections who is charged with ecstasy trafficking must stay put in a Seattle jail for the time being.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Alice Theiler denied Ravinderjit Kaur Shergill's request for bail Thursday, despite her father's offer to post a $30,000 bond to have her released.

Shergill, also known as Ravinderjit Kaur Puar, was arrested June 30 in Seattle after a four-week undercover sting by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

She lost a bid to become the NDP candidate for Vancouver-Kensington earlier this year and has connections to the federal Liberals and the left-leaning Vancouver civic party, COPE.

"I've never been so utterly shocked in my life and any of us who have met her are utterly shocked," Vancouver Coun. Jim Green said Thursday.

Green met with Shergill a few months ago and discussed her political future after she lost the Vancouver-Kensington nomination.

Her father, Kalwant Singh Puar, who was in Seattle for the bail hearing, has been a prominent supporter of federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh.

Dosanjh was not available to comment Thursday, but his spokesman, Ken Polk, said the health minister knew Kalwant Singh Puar as a volunteer with his campaign during the last federal election.

"He has supported the minister in the past and the minister has appreciated his support," Polk said from Ottawa.

"Like anyone, you hear news like this, it's sort of surprising and shocking. That's pretty much the way [Dosanjh] has responded to it."

Shergill, who is 30 and the mother of a young girl, was captured on tape during an undercover investigation boasting about her family's criminal and political connections, including her ability to have people put "six feet under" by her brothers.

"You f--- with us, you die," she allegedly told the agent. "I don't know if you listen to the news and stuff. In Vancouver ... you pay for it and you know how bad you pay for it."

Theiler said the comments were "concerning" because they were actually said, even if Shergill was exaggerating to impress clients.

The U.S. State Attorney raised issues related to other criminal activity involving the family, who live in the 800-block of East 51st in south Vancouver. The Vancouver Police Department executed two search warrants on the family home last month in connection with an investigation into a number of drive-by shootings.

Both Shergill's brother and husband are facing weapons charges in Canada and there was a drive-by shooting at their house, the U.S. court was told.

The court was also told that Shergill's brother, Sundeep Singh Puar, has been charged with threatening his employer at Buster's Towing.

Vancouver provincial court records show Sundeep Puar is charged with two counts of uttering threats and one charge of possessing a Taser stun gun without a licence in relation to an incident that happened June 25.

Sundeep Puar, also known as Sunny, has also been previously charged with unauthorized possession of a firearm and assault, according to provincial court records.

Shergill was charged with conspiracy to distribute ecstasy, as well as two counts of distribution of ecstasy after selling tens of thousands of pills to an undercover DEA agent.

The BC Cancer Agency, where Shergill works as a lab technician, refused Thursday to release details about Shergill's employment history.

"It's a personnel matter. We can't comment," said Nicole Adams, a spokeswoman for the agency. "We're in the process of reviewing the situation."

David Bieber, a communications officer for the provincial NDP, said Ravinderjit Shergill donated $210 last fall after she became a member of the party. Her father donated $145 after he became a member last year, Bieber said.

Shergill lost the NDP nomination last year to David Chudnovsky, who went on to win in the May provincial election.

One of the three co-accused in the ecstasy case, Sarbjit Singh Virk, a Surrey cabinet-maker, was also ordered detained Thursday at the Seattle hearing. Theiler said she was concerned about evidence that Virk entered the U.S. illegally several years ago when he was living in Mexico.

The other two accused, Sarbjit Singh Sandhu and Kamaljit Singh Ghag, are U.S. citizens and were released to family members.

The four are due to have a preliminary hearing July 15, Emily Langlie of the U.S. Attorney's office said.



© The Vancouver Sun 2005

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