Sask. drug boss's wife avoids jail
The wife of the admitted kingpin behind a huge drug ring that straddled several provinces has avoided jail time, despite her involvement in trafficking.
On Wednesday, a judge in Prince Albert, Sask., handed Rhonda Lee Vermette, 35, a two-year conditional sentence for drug trafficking and possession.
The sentence will be served in the community, with one year spent under house arrest.
Vermette was arrested in August 2007 in Vancouver, with a one-kilogram brick of cocaine taped to her body.
She showed no emotion, staring straight ahead as Judge Hugh Harradence read his decision.
Vermette did not respond to reporters' questions outside court, bowing her head as she walked away. However, she read a statement before the judge passed sentence, saying she regretted her actions.
"There's no excuse for anything that has happened," Vermette said in court.
Ordered by husband
Crown prosecutor Kathy Grier told court it was Vermette's common-law husband, Donald James Fiddler, 44, who pulled the strings in the Prince Albert-based operation — ordering Vermette to shuttle money and drugs back and forth.
During sentencing arguments, court was told that Vermette feared Fiddler might kill her.
Grier told reporters outside court that, because of that, she believed the sentence was fair.
"It was something that we certainly couldn't ignore — that there was a seriously abusive relationship and she [Vermette] was a victim of that," said Grier.
Last week, Fiddler said he will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to traffic cocaine and one count of possession of the proceeds of crime.
He is out on bail and will enter his formal plea in British Columbia, where he is being treated for a medical condition. The Crown said it is seeking prison time for Fiddler's offences.
A total of 18 people from British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan were arrested in a police sting operation in February 2008.
Police seized about $90,000 worth of drugs and $75,000 cash.