With his 2016 triumph in the Sky City Casino’s Festival of Poker and a US$36,555 prize to show for it, Shane Thompson, also known as Shane Tamihana, was once the star of New Zealand’s poker community. However, Thompson’s winning streak wasn’t confined to the poker table, as what seemed like mere financial success belied a darker, more illicit source of income.
In 2017, law enforcement exposed Thompson’s true colors when they discovered 2.6 kilograms of methamphetamine and over $100K in cash at his residence. Not long after, in 2018, Thompson saw the inside of a courtroom where a judge bestowed upon him a title far from his poker grandeur, dubbing him “the most comprehensive methamphetamine dealer Hawke’s Bay has ever seen.” He was accordingly sentenced to 13 years behind bars.
Thompson’s illicit activities had not dwindled behind the prison walls, however. When caught arranging the smuggling of methamphetamine for another inmate, Judge Bridget Mackintosh handed him an additional 23 months to his sentence, bringing it to a total of 15 years. The charge included not only drug-related crimes but also the unauthorized possession of a cellphone.
Defending Thompson, his lawyer emphasized this act was nothing beyond a favor for a fellow inmate and had no personal gain involved. But Judge Mackintosh asserted that Thompson’s actions sabotaged the very essence of rehabilitation programs and prison discipline.
Thompson, once renowned for his aggressive poker style and his quirky phrase “Later Bo,” had succumbed to the role of a convict. Prosecutors painted him as a kingpin who had induced a $4.2 million worth methamphetamine flood into Hawke’s Bay over 11 months in 2016 and 2017. Crystalizing this claim, police had seized five vehicles and $130,000 in cash from Thompson and his associate, Petera Gamlen, in 2018.
Even after Thompson’s imprisonment, his illicitly acquired assets came under the judicial hammer. In 2022, the court authorized the seizure of Thompson’s house, an extra vehicle, and bank deposits amounting to over NZ$90,000; these assets the shrewd drug dealer had cleverly hidden under various aliases.
In 2023, Thompson approached the Supreme Court, appealing for a reduction in his sentence. He argued that the binding no-parole period of six and a half years infringed on the standard legal practice of conceding discounts for guilty pleas. The Supreme Court turned down this plea.
From the twists and turns of Thompson’s story, it’s clear that the pursuit of easy money can often lead to a heavy price. Luck can be fickle, and while Thompson may have enjoyed the highs of victory at the poker table, his illicit paths ultimately led him to a massive downfall. For those looking for legal, fair-play platforms to engage in gambling, online casinos can be a worthwhile alternative.
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