REGINA – A former chief of a Saskatchewan First Nation has been handed a six-month conditional sentence after pleading guilty to trafficking morphine.
Clarence Papequash, 61, of the Key First Nation will have to spend six weeks of his sentence under house arrest and pay a $300 victim surcharge.
Court heard that Papequash arranged for his wife to sell half a pill of morphine to a man who was working as an agent for the RCMP.
A lawyer for Papequash said the man had pestered the chief for drugs in the past.
Justice Jennifer Pritchard noted in her sentencing that Papequash directly contributed to the drug problem in his community and violated the trust he was given.
She said that in addition to being chief, he was also an addictions counsellor at the time.
“He must have had firsthand knowledge of the horrors involved in drug abuse. It was his job to be part of the solution. Instead, he has been part of the problem,” Pritchard wrote.
Papequash was arrested after an undercover sting at his home on the reserve in November 2010. He was one of 19 people charged in a prescription drug ring that operated in the Yorkton and Kamsack areas.
In a separate hearing, Papequash’s wife pleaded guilty and was given a three-month jail sentence.
Papequash had tried to argue that he felt pressure to commit the crime because the community has a strong tradition of sharing. But the justice’s response was that “strong communities do not share drugs.”
Papequash will also have to comply with several conditions including living at an approved residence, not possessing or consuming any drugs or alcohol and submit to a DNA order.
© The Canadian Press, 2014