A former New Brunswick Mountie has been sentenced to four years in prison for possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.
Albert Michelin, a 23-year veteran of the RCMP, who last served as a constable in Tobique First Nation, had previously pleaded guilty.
He instructed criminals on police techniques to avoid detection, Crown prosecutor Nicole Angers told the Moncton provincial courtroom during a sentencing hearing on Wednesday.
Michelin, an Innu man who was previously stationed in Labrador for 18 years, also planned to use his knowledge to profit from First Nations' addictions problems, she said.
Judge Anne Dugas-Horsman described the case as "incredibly sad," as Michelin's two adult daughters fought back tears.
She noted Michelin had been only the second member of the Innu community to become an RCMP officer, but is now "an object of shame" to the police force.
'I got lost.' - Albert Michelin
The judge stressed his breach of public trust and how he was "prepared to exploit his vulnerable people" and make them more fragile for his gain.
"I got lost," Michelin, 51, told the court, reading from a written statement for about 30 minutes.
"I never went out looking for a line to cross," he said.
Michelin, who has struggled with addiction and psychiatric problems for years, blamed working under high-risk and high-stress conditions with a heavy caseload and lack of sleep.
"I don't even recognize who that person is," he said, referring to videotaped surveillance of him that was played in the courtroom.
He said going to jail has saved his life. He "feels free for the first time in years," and wants to "move forward in a meaningful way" with the love and support of his family and friends, he said.
"You'll never see me again," Michelin told the court.
Defence lawyer Alison Menard said Michelin is aware of the gravity of his offence.
He was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, a severe alcohol problem, and ongoing psychiatric issues at the time, she said.
It was the lowest point in his life, said Menard, noting he had tried to commit suicide just a few weeks before his arrest.
She and the Crown made a joint recommendation for a four-year sentence, which the judge said was "appropriate."
Michelin was given 398 days of credit for time already served.
He has been in custody since Nov. 29, 2013.
11-month sting operation
Michelin was arrested following an 11-month investigation by the RCMP's federal operations unit in Nova Scotia.
A second count of possession for the purpose of trafficking and one count of trafficking were dropped.
Operation Haze, which involved 22 undercover police officers, audio and video surveillance, had one target — Michelin, the courtroom heard.
Police set up a fictitious distribution company, hired Michelin's son and eventually approached Michelin, who was suspended from the RCMP at the time, about working there.
Two of the undercover officers told Michelin they were running drugs through the company, unbeknownst to management.
Michelin told them he used to have a drug distribution system in Labrador, where he had worked, and that he knew how to cook crack.
He said he was interested in getting back in the "business" and to prove he was trustworthy, he told them about some of the techniques police use in order to help them avoid being detected.
During a meeting at Casino New Brunswick in Moncton on Nov. 28, 2013, which was recorded, Michelin can be heard talking about drug prices and how easy it is to hide and deliver drugs.
It was one of 53 interactions between Michelin and the undercover officers during the operation, the courtroom heard.
A videotape of a transaction involving 30 ounces of cocaine at the Salisbury Big Stop on Nov. 29, 2013, was also played for the court.
Michelin was suspended with pay at the time of his arrest due to unrelated code of conduct investigations, but he subsequently resigned.