A Yellowknife man has been sentenced to six months in jail after he was convicted of trafficking cocaine in the summer of 2015.
Dennis Foster, 22, the son of a Yellowknife municipal enforcement officer, was scolded by NWT Supreme Court judge Virginia Schuler as she sentenced him a week ago yesterday for repeatedly breaching his court conditions.
Schuler told Foster she did not know why he was not charged for failing to report with the RCMP on 12 separate occasions during the two years he waited for his sentencing. He had been required to check in with them weekly.
Yellowknifer asked RCMP for its policy when it comes to people before the courts who do not check in with them as required, including whether Foster received any special treatment because his father is a bylaw officer in the city. According to Sgt. Dean Riou of the Federal Investigations Unit, he did not.
“While Mr. Foster (was) required to report weekly to the Yellowknife Detachment, he was investigated by the “G” Division Federal Investigations Unit (FIU), (which is) subsequently responsible for monitoring the compliance of reporting conditions. As Mr. Foster’s lack of reporting was sporadic over a prolonged period of time, charges were not pursued, Riou stated in an e-mail. “With respect to the insinuation that Mr. Foster
received special treatment due to his relative being a bylaw officer, please note that FIU took the initiative to pro-actively investigate Mr. Foster and spent countless hours on the investigation and disclosure. This was done to ensure Mr. Foster was held accountable, through the court process, for his involvement in the drug trade. In no way whatsoever did he receive any special treatment.
Foster was convicted for twice driving members of the B.C.-based ‘856’ gang in his mother’s truck to locations for them to sell crack cocaine. Both buys, just days apart, were made by an undercover RCMP officer.
Crown prosecutor Duane Praught called for a sentence of six to nine months due to the fact the circumstances of Foster’s case are not typical of dial-a-dope operations often found in Yellowknife. He pointed out Foster never actually possessed the cocaine nor did he sell it to the undercover officer. He was merely giving a ride to two dealers he had met a week previously.
Praught said Foster drove to the buys so he could get cocaine to satisfy his own drug addiction.
Foster had pleaded guilty to the charges on May 23. According to an agreed statement of facts, Foster was at the wheel when the two gang members sold one gram and later 1.5 grams of crack to the undercover officer.
“He was on the periphery of an organized and sophisticated dial-a-dope scheme,” Praught told the court. “Rehabilitation is more important here. We have an addict who came into contact with cocaine sellers.”
In her sentencing, Schuler noted Foster did not show up that morning for his sentencing. Schuler did not issue a warrant for his arrest and put the case over until 2 p.m. that afternoon when Foster did appear in court accompanied by his mother and father.
“I am mystified as to why you were not here this morning,” said Schuler. “You do not seem to have a good grasp of the seriousness of these court proceedings. I suspect you panicked and I want you to remember that feeling the next time you are considering getting involved in drugs again. If you are charged again you will be in a worse state, facing more seriousness punishment.”
Foster’s defence lawyer Tracy Bock had called for a sentence of three to four months. He described Foster as someone who became addicted to cocaine roughly two years ago and somewhat of a naive follower who only got arrested after trying to feed his own cocaine habit.
Court heard Foster had admitted to relapsing with cocaine this year and had been seen by RCMP in known drug areas of the city.
Foster apologized to the court prior to being sentenced.
“I realize how destructive drugs are. I’m very sorry and I won’t make these choices again,” he said.
Foster was given 12 days’ credit for the eight days he spent in pre-trial custody. He was also ordered to submit a sample of his DNA for the national registry and will be prohibited from possessing a firearm for 10 years after his release from jail.
Outside court, Praught insisted Foster did not receive a lighter sentence or special treatment because he is the son of a municipal enforcement officer.