Original Published on Sep 03, 2022 at 00:17
By Mia Jensen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A Chelmsford man will spend four years in the federal penitentiary after pleading guilty to two charges laid following a major drug in 2021.
“My god, you’ve made a serious mistake,” Ontario Court Justice Louise Serre said as she sentenced Jesse Labrie-Gelinas on Friday. “These kinds of charges are a common feature on our docket. Walk outside of this courtroom and you will see it; the lost souls languishing on the streets.”
Justice Serre said the impact of his actions is not limited to those who use drugs. “They have far rippling effects. It tears family apart, destroys lives, loses jobs. Children are irreparably damaged. We see it every day.”
Labrie-Gelinas, 36, was arrested and charged with multiple drug possession and trafficking charges, after Greater Sudbury Police and OPP executed a search warrant in March 2021 that turned up firearms, large amounts of cash, and a large quantity of drugs with an estimated street value of $634,000.
On Jan. 28, he pled guilty to cocaine possession for the purpose of trafficking, and possession of $5,000 obtained by criminal means.
Labrie-Gelinas’s lawyer, Reid Rusonik, and federal prosecutor Denys Bradley, made a joint sentence submission, which recommended a four-year stint in the penitentiary, a 10-year weapons ban, and a DNA order.
Justice Serre approved the sentence in during the sentencing hearing Friday.
“You have committed a very serious crime,” the judge told told Labrie-Gelinas. “You trafficked in some of the most pernicious, dangerous, addictive drugs. These drugs tear at the very fabric of our society.”
Rusonik, who attended the sentencing virtually, wanted to emphasize his client’s background, which included sustaining a severe injury while working in the mines, and turning to marijuana as a self-prescribed pain medication.
“He was found with marijuana in his system while working,” said Rusonik. “There was a zero-tolerance policy and he lost his position as a result. He was basically blacklisted and couldn’t find other work.”
He said the situation led to significant financial difficulties, made worse when his father died, leaving behind significant debt.
“He had fallen behind economically. He had to sell his father’s house to settle the debts.”
But since being released on bail, Rusonik said Labrie-Gelinas had found his feet, successfully starting his own business selling pool tables to clients, which he hopes he has “set up well enough that it will still be there for him when he is finally released.”
Rusonik added, “He is the most polite and respectful client I’ve ever dealt with. It’s hard to imagine a person with a better chance of serving his community when he is released.”
Labrice-Gelinas was emotional throughout the hearing, reaching for tissues as his lawyer recounted these details.
In a brief statement to the judge, which he read through tears, he acknowledged his wrongdoing.
“I know I’m going to jail, and I know I only have myself to blame,” he said. “I was very desperate and depressed. I lied to myself into thinking that what I was doing was Ok. But in the process. I hurt people in ways I didn’t realize, including my family.”
He added that he was grateful to his family for staying by his side despite his actions. “I want to do my time quietly. I want my family to be proud of me, not ashamed. I will work hard when I get out to make sure that I don’t make the same mistakes again.”
Justice Serre opened her remarks to Labrie-Gelinas by noting, “You are very young. And you come before us without any history. All the letters submitted on your behalf speak highly of you, and I encourage to court to accept that this behaviour is completely outside of your character.”
Despite this acknowledgement, Serre was not interested in downplaying the severity of Labrie-Gelinas’ crimes. She said the “commercial nature” of his trafficking operation, coupled with the sheer volume of drugs he possessed for trafficking, made the severity of the offense worse.
“Choosing sentences is often the most difficult part of this job,” she said. “Four years is light. It won’t be easy time. You want to do it quietly? It won’t be easy time.”
She said she hopes the incarceration period will give him sufficient time to reflect on his actions.
“You seem like a very intelligent young man,” she said. “You have a thriving business and substantial economic prospects. Look in the mirror and ask if the version of yourself that you see is the best version of yourself you can be.”