Saturday, July 3, 2010
Drug trafficking auto mechanic sentenced to 4 years prison
Stuart Richer liked to run with gangsters and party with strippers.
He might still be a free man if he didn’t add drug dealing to the mix.
Richer, 44, pleaded guilty to one count of drug trafficking and was sentenced Friday to four years in prison.
Richer was one of 33 people arrested in a year-long police investigation dubbed Project Divide that targeted members and associates of the Zig Zag Crew, the so-called “puppet club” of the Manitoba Hells Angels.
As in similar stings police enlisted the aid of a paid criminal agent, Zig-Zagger Michael Satsatin, to ensnare criminal targets.
Richer wasn’t an original target of the investigation, but came to police attention through his association with accused Zig-Zagger Ronald Normand.
Police surveillance captured Richer “facilitating” the sale of 55 grams of crystal meth to Satsatin.
Court heard Richer ran errands for Normand and chauffeured him about town for “debt collections.”
Richer received little money for his time — high times in low places were reward enough. Police surveillance captured Richer at a Hells Angels-controlled strip bar, bragging how he received “VIP treatment.”
“It seems to be that Mr. Richer’s interest in working with these individuals is the thrill of the gang lifestyle and access to young women and Mr. Richer was prepared to do these odd jobs from time to time,” said Crown attorney Chris Mainella.
Richer is an auto mechanic with no prior criminal record. A police search of his Anola home found it “full of Hells Angels ‘support wear,’ the kind of items you can’t purchase at your local department store,” Mainella said.
Justice Morris Kaufman rejected defence lawyer Danny Gunn’s argument that Richer’s actions were not motivated by greed.
“I’m not sure where there is a distinction between being greedy for money and being greedy for a good time,” Kaufman said. “He is doing it for a payoff, it just happens to be not primarily money, it’s more like what money can buy.”
I completely disagree with 4 years in prison. I believe that prison should always remain a last resort and not be over-relied upon. All other lesser restrictive measures should be considered first. I believe that only the most dangerous and violent criminals should be sentenced to prisons, not the mentally ill, addicts, first time offenders, non-violent, property or drug offenders. Imprisoning non-violent drug offenders only creates further overcrowding, increased tensions and levels of violence in prisons. This man was a first time offender who made a mistake and got caught up in that lifestyle for a short period. He is not violent, he is not dangerous and he should not be in prison. Prisons are the schools of crime filled with negative influences, subculture, drugs, gangs and pro-criminal attitudes and behaviours. This man will likely become more involved in the gang lifestyle through prison and will receive little assistance when released. Non-violent drug offenders should receive a community sanction, such as a conditional sentence or probation. This man should have received a conditional sentence for his involvement with counseling.