A 38-year-old Wabush man has been sentenced to 36 months in federal penitentiary for his role in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy dating to 2015.
Todd Bixby appeared at Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador on Sept. 26 to learn his fate in an oral decision by Justice Frances Knickle.
The judge noted that a presentence report indicated Bixby was a good candidate for rehabilitation and had good job prospects upon release, but the seriousness of the charges warranted significant incarceration.
Federal prosecutor Christian Girouard argued for four years at a July 10 sentencing hearing describing Bixby as an, “Ounce level cocaine trafficker being supplied by Gary Mulrooney. He owes money to Gary Mulrooney and is looking to pay it back.”
Girouard was satisfied with the sentence.
“My role as Crown counsel was to provide the Court with sufficient facts and arguments to allow an independent judge to make a fair and impartial decision on sentence, which I believe is what happened here,” he said. “In that context, I am satisfied that I fulfilled my role.”
For the defence, attorney Mark Gruchy submitted in July that the appropriate sentence was two to three years.
“It is, in my view, a fair sentence considering the case,” he told The Aurora following the sentencing.
“Mr. Bixby and his family were experiencing the consequences of the economic trouble of Labrador City. This contributed to his choice to involve himself in this. It does not excuse the behavior, but it does provide some explanatory power.
“He has strong family support and secure employment when released. I strongly believe he will never break the law again.”
At the July hearing, co-accused Craig Oldford, 48, of Labrador City, was sentenced to 38 months in prison.
Both men changed their pleas from “not guilty” to “guilty” at a hearing in January, 2018, that had been scheduled for the beginning of their trial.
The judge also imposed mandatory 10-year firearms prohibition and DNA order on Bixby and a forfeiture of a number of items including cell phones and drug trafficking-related paraphernelia.
In all, eight people — six from Labrador City and Wabush — were arrested in a multiple site sting that police dubbed Operation Turbulence.
Mulrooney pleaded guilty on April 12, 2016, to one count each of conspiracy and possession for the purpose of trafficking. He was sentenced to seven years in prison as the head of the distribution network.
David Fowler received 40 months in a November, 2016, plea deal for his role of transporting nearly two kilograms of the drug.
Jean Ste. Marie also pleaded out and was sentenced to 27 months.
Most recently, in August, Martin Simard, of St. Hubert, Quebec, was sentenced to 30 months.