Special sentence sought for elderly cocaine dealer


KAMLOOPS - He's a grandparent, a cancer patient and now a convicted cocaine dealer. The question is what to do with him.

It appears that Robert Ehlert, 72, is about to spend 10 months locked up, but his defence lawyer says the best prison for him is his own home—the same place where he was dealing drugs in the first place. He told a Kamloops Supreme Court judge that is the best way for him to get medical treatment.

Ehlert pleaded guilty to two counts of trafficking cocaine and one charge of possession for the purpose of trafficking today after an undercover cocaine bust at his Lee Creek home last year. RCMP pursued a tip about the drugs in Nov. 2012 and seized 20 grams of rock cocaine and 10 grams of powdered cocaine along with some marijuana from Ehlert's home. Total value of the cocaine was about $2,000, according to prosecutor Anthony Varesi.

"The score sheets he had indicates he had an active business of selling cocaine," Varesi said.

He said it's less common these days for drugs to be sold out of a home. Most dealers deliver directly to the customer in a business model termed 'dial-a-dope.' The Crown asked for a 10-month prison sentence for Ehlert.

Defence lawyer Don Campbell said Ehlert is in remission for prostate cancer and has heart problems. He added that Ehlert has suffered from depression along with his physical ailments following his cancer diagnosis and the suicide of a close friend. He asked for a special probation order that would allow Ehlert to deal with his medical problems. He has various doctor appointments and other needs.

"It might save Corrections Canada from having to basically run around with Mr. Ehlert," Campbell said.

Campbell proposed that B.C. Supreme Court justice Hope Hyslop craft a probation order for 24-hour house arrest but still allowing him to tend to his health.

Varesi said the health concerns are not terminal and have been managed for years.

"I don't know if I have evidence that they are manageable, that's the problem — manageable in a jail," Hyslop said. "I have to think very carefully before I send Mr. Ehlert off to jail for 10 months."

Sentencing for Ehlert is expected at a later date.

However sentencing for a co-accused was much simpler. Richard Maki pleaded guilty to trafficking and got a 90-day intermittent jail sentence at the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre.

To contact a reporter for this story, email: jwallace@infotelnews.ca, call: (250) 319-7494 or tweet: @jess__wallace.

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