SUMMERSIDE — A 62-year-old New Brunswick man will spent two years in prison for his role in what the judge called a “sophisticated” interprovincial drug ring.
Joseph Timothee Donald Leger, in a court appearance earlier this year, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic hydromorphone.
The charge stemmed from the culmination of a two-year undercover investigation by RCMP’s drug unit entitled Operation LASH, which resulted in the raid of five rural Prince County residences in April 2010 and the arrests of six people from P.E.I., two from New Brunswick and one from Nova Scotia.
Trevor Jerry Delaney, the so-called ringleader of the operation, was sentenced in November 2011 to two and a half years in prison.
Leger sold Delaney drugs, which were sold to smaller Island dealers.
Police began investigating Delaney in April 2008. But it wasn’t until late December 2009 that police would use court-ordered wiretaps and video surveillance to collect information, including conversations between Delaney and Leger.
Between December 2009 and April 2010, more than 16,000 calls were intercepted, with more than 50 of those between Delaney and Leger.
Police were able to confirm, through that surveillance, that Leger sold hydromorphone pills, known on the street as Big Reds, to Delaney on two occasions from his Lakeville, N.B., home.
The first transaction took place in January 2010 when Leger sold Delaney 120 30-milligram hydromorphone pills for $32 each. In April, Leger sold Delaney 300 eight-milligram hydromorphone pills for an undisclosed amount of money.
Leger had no prior record.
Crown attorney Gary Demeulenaere argued for a sentence of two to two-and-a-half years in prison, which he said was consistent with what the other co-conspirators in the case had received as sentences.
He argued that, given the nature of the crime, the need for denunciation and deterrence and the sentence being sought, that a conditional sentence — or, house arrest — should not be permitted.
Demeulenaere called Leger an “integral” supplier who facilitated the sale of drugs from his home, adding serving a sentence from that same home would not be appropriate.
He noted that powerful prescription narcotics “steal the lives of drug users” and that those convicted of trafficking or of conspiring to traffic these drugs “should expect stiff jail sentences in our jurisdiction.”
Leger’s lawyer Monica Barley argued for house arrest, noting Leger’s lack of record, extensive health problems and lack of addictions issues.
Suffering from chronic pain, anxiety, sleep apnea and other ailments, Barley said a prison term would only deteriorate Leger’s condition.
She also argued that Leger’s involvement wasn’t as extensive as the Crown had made it out to be, noting, according to her client, he was selling the drugs on behalf of a friend who needed help.
“Mr. Leger did not profit from these transactions,” said Barley, adding he merely facilitated the transactions for a third party. “I’m not saying Mr. Leger didn’t know what he was doing was wrong. He thought he was helping somebody.”
She argued there were no drugs seized or searches conducted from Leger’s home.
“His participation cannot be similar to the others.”
Judge Jeff Lantz did not agree with Barley’s assertions and sentenced Leger to serve his two-year sentence in a federal prison.
He noted Leger entered the operation “on the upper rung on the ladder,” adding there was a degree of sophistication used on Leger’s part, evident in the coded language used in the conservations with Delaney.
“House arrest… seems to be against the principals and purposes of sentencing,” said Lantz. “He did it twice. It wasn’t a spur of the moment thing.”
Leger was also ordered to provide a DNA sample and is prohibited for 10 years from possessing or owning weapons or ammunition.