Edmonton lawyer charged with smuggling drugs

Edmonton Police have charged criminal defence lawyer Justin Sidhu after he allegedly tried enter the Edmonton Remand Centre with drugs, CBC News has learned.
Police allege Edmonton lawyer Justin Sidhu entered the new Edmonton Remand Centre to visit a client, and brought in $6,000 of methamphetamine drugs. Sidhu has been charged with trafficking a controlled substance.

Edmonton Police have charged a lawyer after he allegedly tried enter the Edmonton Remand Centre with drugs.

Police allege that Edmonton criminal defence lawyer Justin Sidhu, 31, entered the remand at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 19 with the intention of visiting a client. EPS say Sidhu had a package he told security was "lawyer-client privilege."

Staff seized the package after it reached the inmate, searched it and allegedly found six grams of methamphetamine inside. Police say if sold in a jail, the drugs would be worth $6,000.

Sidhu was charged Wednesday night with one count of trafficking a controlled substance.

CBC News spoke to Sidhu Thursday afternoon, but he declined comment, referring the matter to his own lawyer. That lawyer did not immediately return calls.

According to corporate registration records, Sidhu started his own law firm in June.

He was called to the bar in 2011, and previously worked for the Edmonton law firm Moustarah & Company. Lead lawyer Chady Moustarah said Sidhu was fired at the end of July.

Moustarah told CBC News he was "shocked" by the criminal charge, and that Sidhu "had an opportunity to be part of an honourable profession and he degraded it."

Reaction from other members of the the legal community was also swift Thursday.

"Lawyers are officers of the court. I think they are held to a higher standard than others in some ways. It's certainly distressing to hear that charges have been laid," said Shannon Pritihipaul, president of the Edmonton Criminal Trial Lawyer's Association.

Ally Taylor, spokesperson for the Law Society of Alberta, said the profession's code of conduct requires lawyer who face criminal charges to disclose them to the society.

"If we feel that there's an imminent risk to the public, we would request approval for interim suspension," Taylor said.

"Another path that it could follow is that we would look at the offence that the lawyer is charged with and identify whether or not it warrants suspension or perhaps even disbarment."

With files from Janice Johnston

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