BY KEITH LACEY
A Quebec man with no previous criminal record has been given a three-year penitentiary term after pleading guilty to being involved in a cocaine trafficking ring allegedly connected with the Hells Angels motorcycle club in Quebec.
On Nov. 25, Christian Chenard, 35, pleaded guilty to conspiring to traffic cocaine charges.
Justice John Keast of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice agreed to a joint submission that Chenard be given a three-year penitentiary term despite the fact he had no previous criminal record.
"It's tragic when a 35-year-old person with no previous criminal record and no apparent involvement in criminal activity enters the world of crime and his first sentence is a three-year jail term," said Keast.
Chenard was arrested in March along with 14 other people after a joint police investigation involving Greater Sudbury Police, the RCMP and Quebec provincial police.
Most of those charged also face conspiracy to traffic in cocaine charges after police confiscated cocaine, a large stash of cash, other street drugs and Hells Angels paraphernalia.
The 14-month investigation resulted in police recovering over two kilograms (4.5 pounds) of cocaine with a street value of $200,000. Also seized were 1,700 Ecstasy pills with a street value of $68,000, marijuana with a street value of $15,000 and over $18,000 in cash.
Federal Crown prosecutor Pierre Lapointe told the court Chenard, who used a French translator during the proceedings, was a minor player in the drug ring based out of Sherbrooke, Que.
His main job was to rent vehicles used to transport drugs between Quebec and Sudbury.
Lapointe said the police investigation revealed large amounts of cocaine were being brought to Sudbury from Quebec, and members of the Sherbrooke chapter of the Hells Angels were leaders of the distribution ring.
Chenard's lawyer, Gilbert Frigon, admitted his client was involved in renting vehicles and knew cocaine was being brought to Sudbury, but denied his client is a member of the Hells Angels.
Lapointe said the Crown would have sought a much longer sentence except for the fact Chenard has no previous criminal record.
Keast told Chenard even minor players will face harsh punishment when they are convicted of criminal activity involving distribution of hard drugs like cocaine.
Sentences have to be sufficiently harsh to send an anti-trafficking message to the public and to discourage the accused from getting involved in similar situations in the future, said Keast.