SUMMERSIDE — A city motel owner is now in federal prison, behind bars for the next two years for selling cocaine to two undercover cops at his business.
Donald T. Gaudet, 52, owns Baker’s Lighthouse Motel in the city’s east end.
It was in May 2011 that Gaudet sold a total of an ounce of cocaine to an undercover police officer posing as a motel guest.
Gaudet, who earlier entered guilty pleas to two charges of trafficking cocaine, was sentenced Tuesday in Summerside provincial court for the crime that the judge and Crown said was purely for monetary gain.
Judge Jeff Lantz handed down the prison term after hearing pleas by Gaudet and his lawyer, Wendell Maxwell, for a sentence of house arrest.
Maxwell argued that Gaudet be allowed to serve his sentence at home in order to care for his disabled son, who the lawyer said required around the clock supervision, and to ensure that the motel — his livelihood — stay open.
“My son, he’s got nobody,” Gaudet said in a plea to the court. “I made a wrong decision. I hurt my family so much by doing it. I don’t know how I got wrapped up in it.”
He said he had no one to care for his son if he was to go to jail, although the court heard that the provincial disability support program agreed arrangements would be made for the boy’s care while Gaudet was behind bars.
“I am very remorseful for what I did. I know it was wrong now and I probably did then,” said Gaudet, who noted prior to his arrest he didn’t fully comprehended illegal drugs’ serious impact or the consequenes of drug trafficking.
“If I would have know that I would never have got involved. I did a stupid thing.”
But Lantz, after reviewing submissions from Crown attorney Gary Demeulenaere, which included precedents from courts on P.E.I. and in Nova Scotia, and arguments from Maxwell, concluded house arrest wasn’t appropriate.
In order for a conditional sentence to even be considered, the jail term imposed would have to be two years less a day or less, which, said the judge, wasn’t an adequate sentence in this case.
He also noted that denunciation and deterring Gaudet and others are paramount when it comes to sentencing.
“If a father is so concerned about the care of his son he should not be dealing drugs in the very residence that his son resides,” said Lantz.
On May 19, 2011, two police officers, a man and a woman, posed as guests rented a room at Gaudet’s motel.
The man struck up a conversation with Gaudet about drugs and the motel owner offered to sell the undercover cop half an ounce of cocaine for $1,000, asking him if he preferred the drug in rock or powder form.
The undercover officer agreed to the deal and Gaudet went outside to where the drugs were stashed, returned to the his second-floor residence with the cop, measured out 14 grams of cocaine, bagged the drugs, and the money and drugs were exchanged.
The next day the undercover cop approached Gaudet again to buy another half-ounce of cocaine and Gaudet agreed. Again, money and drugs were exchanged.
Gaudet was arrested a month later. He had no prior related record.
His presentence report indicated Gaudet wasn’t using cocaine or any other drug, that he was selling cocaine for monetary gain.
Demeulenare said in the report there was no presence of remorse only concern from Gaudet about what would happen to his disabled son.
The Crown attorney said the “otherwise decent member of society” needs “to be placed at a level above a street-level trafficker” and asked for a sentence of at least two years in prison.
Maxwell argued that Gaudet had been dealing with personal issues at the time he committed the crime and was drinking heavily.
The defence attorney said since his arrest, Gaudet “has regretted every minute” and that it was an isolated incident.
“He didn’t have score sheets and all the other paraphernalia to indicate he was at the higher end of drug trafficking,” said Maxwell. “I can say that the court will never see my client again, ever. He will never offend again.”
But Lantz said it is obvious Gaudet “was in it for the money”, adding, “we’re not dealing with a street retailer here.”
“The comment that he didn’t know drugs were that bad is hard to swallow,” said the judge. “He sold from his home, his place of business to complete strangers.”
Once out of jail, Gaudet will be on probation for 12 months and will be prohibited for 10 years from owning or possessing any weapons or ammunition. He also must provide police with a DNA sample.
Before being led out of the courtroom and to jail, Gaudet made one last plea to have two weeks to make arrangements for care for his son before going to prison.
But, said Lantz, “That should have been looked after before you came to court.”