January 13, 2015 - 7:30 PM
KAMLOOPS - It is now up to a Supreme Court justice to decide if a drug supplier's rehabilitative project has earned him the chance to serve his jail sentence in the community over Crown's recommended six-year federal imprisonment.
Jean-Claude Auger, who pleaded guilty to his involvement in a drug trafficking ring, was in court Jan. 13 where his lawyer, Chris Thompson, asked Justice Hope Hyslop to consider a conditional sentence order – a jail sentence served outside of a prison.
Auger pleaded guilty in May 2014 to trafficking cocaine for an organized dial-a-dope drug ring. The group operated from February to October 2012 before it was shut down by an RCMP sting.
Auger’s case before the courts pre-dates the November 2012 change in legislation which removed conditional sentence orders for those convicted of offenses with a ten-year maximum penalty. Thompson said his client’s case is “exceptional” but not precedent-setting.
“I’m asking that you not give him a sentence that will pull him back from his work,” Thompson said.
Since he was arrested for supplying cocaine to dealers in Kamloops, Auger has worked with Mastermind Studios to develop a series of YouTube clips which focus on his negative experiences with the drug trade. He hopes the videos can be used to educate people, Thompson said.
Thompson said his client is no longer involved with drugs or alcohol and the videos were indicative of his commitment to rehabilitation.
“If he makes a mistake (while serving his sentence in the community,) it’s going to be evident for everybody,” he said noting Auger’s coverage in the press.
Federal Crown prosecutor John Walker acknowledged Auger’s video project, calling his efforts “commendable,” but said Hyslop will have to determine how much weight it carries in terms of sentencing.
Walker said he struggled to see the videos’ educational purpose as the accused does not discuss the specific event he’s being sentenced for nor did he have those discussions under oath in the courtroom.
“Auger has invested heavily in his rehabilitation. This was for himself. He doesn’t want to go to jail,” Walker said.
Walker suggested the videos were made because Auger lost profits from his drug business after he was arrested for an assault outside the Westsyder pub.
Thompson suggested Auger receive a two-year conditional sentence order with a three-year probation and a concurrent one-year house arrest. If Hyslop determines Auger will serve a custodial sentence, Thompson asked that Auger serve one year in provincial prison followed by a three-year probation.
One of Auger's videos produced by Mastermind Studios
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