June 22, 2022

Kiwi poker player turned meth dealer loses assets while in jail

Posted: May 10, 2022, 9:34 a.m.

Last update: May 10, 2022, 10:05 a.m.

Shane Tamihana will have plenty of time to perfect his poker game. He sits in a New Zealand prison cell for drug trafficking and can only watch as authorities seize his assets.

Shane Tamihana
Shane Tamihana, a former tournament poker player. He is now in prison for running a major drug trafficking ring, and his assets will be sold off by the police. (Picture: New Zealand Herald)

Shane Tamihana had it all – a burgeoning career as a poker professional, recognition in his home country of New Zealand, and the chance to break into the international poker scene. He also had a thriving illicit drug dealer, who eventually destroyed everything he worked for.

In 2018, Tamihana, aka Shane Thompson, saw it all disappear in the blink of an eye. Police arrested him for moving methamphetamines and a judge sentenced him to 13 years behind bars.

As he sits in the cell, the outside world moves on. This includes authorities seizing and selling its assets, New Zealand says Thing media.

The poker player bends to drugs

The budding poker player was found guilty of playing a major role in a meth ring that sold around 2.5 million New Zealand dollars (US$1.57 million) worth of drugs. After his arrest, New Zealand seized his property, including real estate, a vehicle and more than NZ$90,000 (US$56,583) in cash.

It took a while for all the money to surface. But the police went after all that once Tamihana received her sentence. Along with the cash and a discreet 2006 Toyota Hilux, they also seized a house worth NZ$280,000 (US$176,036).

Initially, the drug-dealing poker player tried to challenge the seizures. However, perhaps realizing he had no way out, he relented and relented. This paved the way for the police to dispose of the assets. But a new wrinkle has emerged that has caused further angst in the justice system.

Questionable ownership claims

Taking possession of the real estate was not an easy task. Another individual, Michael Allison, attempted to intervene and claimed he owned the property. He tried to convince the authorities that Tamihana had no investment in the house and that it was not his to be foreclosed.

Those arguments fell apart this week. A judge overseeing foreclosure applications decided that Allison lacked a solid foundation. He added that the man claiming to own the property may have misled the court as to the source of his real estate involvement.

Allison said he originally invested NZ$40,000 (US$25,140) to buy the house. When it came time to prove this and show the source of the funds, his story fell apart. He went from winning at SkyCity, which the casino could not confirm, to playing poker with big Chinese players.

SkyCity showed that Allison only lost money when buying the house, weakening the story. It didn’t help the future owner’s case that his own father rejected the idea that his son owned the property.

As a result, the judge created a more likely scenario which he presented this week. Tamihana was the real buyer and asked Allison to put the house in her name. Therefore, the police had the right to seize the “contaminated goods” and could do with them what they wanted.

Not the reputation he wanted

Tamihana became a prolific meth dealer even as he won poker tournaments. Hendon Mob reports taking first place at the Skycity Festival of Poker 2016 $1,550 +100 No Limit Hold’em Main Event. This follows a second-place finish at an event at the same festival a year earlier.

Seemingly dissatisfied with the course his poker career was taking, Tamihana embarked on a new path in the world of illicit drugs. This led to him becoming, as the sentencing judge put it, “the most thorough meth dealer Hawke’s Bay has ever seen.”