Monday, July 26, 2010
Gang leader; addict; father of three sentenced to 90 months prison
A long-time Manitoba gang leader with a violent criminal history is heading back to prison for his role in a major drug-dealing operation.
Ronald Normand, 42, pleaded guilty Monday to selling crystal meth to an undercover police agent who captured the transaction on audio and video surveillance. He also admitted to participating in a criminal organization and laundering the proceeds of crime while serving as the vice-president of the Zig Zag Crew, which is the so-called "puppet club" of the Manitoba Hells Angels.
Normand was one of the main targets of "Project Divide", the 13-month sting which ended last December with 35 arrests in Manitoba and British Columbia. He is the 21st person to plead guilty.
Police used the services of Zig Zag member Michael Satsatin, who was paid $450,000 and placed in witness protection for his work.
Police were looking on and listening in last September when Normand agreed to sell five ounces of meth to Satsatin in exchange for $13,500. The deal was first negotiated inside a Transcona-area Tim Hortons, then consummated in the parking lot of a Petro Canada in St. Vital, court was told.
Crown and defence lawyers agreed Monday that Normand should spend 90 months behind bars, in addition to eight months of time already served. They noted his lengthy criminal record, which includes a manslaughter conviction for killing a Winnipeg man during a 1994 brawl inside the beverage room of the Northern Hotel.
Normand was given six years custody for that crime, in which he picked a fight with a 32-year-old patron and repeatedly kicked him in the face for no reason Defence lawyer Mark Wasyliw said his client, who is the father of eight children with three different women, has battled a lifetime addiction to drugs and alcohol which has frequently landed him in legal hot water. Normand took his first sip of alcohol when he was just eight years old and has been a gang member since he was 15, court was told.
He said Normand wants to use his experience to lecture troubled teens about making positive changes in their lives and staying out of gangs. However, Free Press archives show that another lawyer told a judge nearly the identical thing during a 2000 sentencing hearing.
Normand pleaded guilty in that incident to assault causing bodily harm and was given six months in jail for smashing a man over the head with a bar stool while out on parole for manslaughter. The Crown said it was an unprovoked attack, similar to the one years earlier which left a man dead.
Defence lawyer Pam Smith told court at the time her client had gotten his life back together during his two years on parole by upgrading his education at Red River College and was also speaking to at-risk youth about avoiding the types of mistakes he had made.
Wasyliw said Monday his client is suffering financially and resorted to selling drugs for the Zig Zag Crew to help get him out of debt and feed his addictions. He said Normand’s role as vice-president of the gang was "ceremonial" because nobody else wanted to do it.
I disagree with the 90 months in prison for this man. I believe that only the most dangerous offenders should be imprisoned, not the mentally ill, addicts, non violent, property and drug offenders. I do not believe that this man poses a danger to society and therefore, there is no purpose in imprisoning him. There are many mitigating factors in this case, including; his financial struggles which led to selling drugs, addiction to drugs and alcohol and the fact that he is a father of eight children. This man needs assistance and support in employment, education, substance abuse treatment and gang desistance. A more appropriate sentence for this man would have been a 2 year conditional sentence with requirements that this man attend drug/alcohol counseling/treatment, and be provided with employment assistance. I have sympathy for this man and hope he gets the help he needs to overcome his life struggles.