First Nations smokes illegally sent to Calgary from Quebec, court told

Crown prosecutor Aleksandra Simic said the total tax avoided on the smoking products was $283,266.16, including an Alberta tax of $181,500

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Possessing 3,300 cartons of contraband First Nations cigarettes with a potential street value of nearly $170,000 has landed a Calgary man a six-month conditional sentence to be served in the community.

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Among the conditions Richard MacDonald must abide by is house arrest for the first two months of his sentence, provincial court Judge Terry Semenuk ordered Tuesday.

MacDonald, 51, pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of possession of illicit tobacco products.

Crown prosecutor Aleksandra Simic told court the Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis Commission’s Tobacco Enforcement Unit was informed of a delivery from Montreal to Calgary of First Nations cigarettes discovered when a transportation skid was damaged and an inspection uncovered the cartons of Rolled Gold Cigarettes.

The enforcement unit arranged for a controlled delivery of the pallets to their Calgary destination, Simic said.

Det. Lloyd Plomp accompanied the driver of the truck in an undercover capacity and the contraband was taken to Sentinel Storage on Nov. 21, 2019, she said.

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MacDonald was waiting for the delivery and signed the bill of lading for the shipment before he was arrested by Plomp.

She said the seized contraband contained 825,000 cigarettes as well as 35 sleeves of Skoal chewing tobacco.

“None of the tobacco seized had the required (government) markings for sale in Alberta,” Simic said.

She said the total tax avoided on the smoking products was $283,266.16, including an Alberta tax of $181,500.

“The estimated projected street value is $167,800,” the prosecutor said, which was calculated at $50 a carton and $80 per sleeve of chewing tobacco.

Along with the house arrest, MacDonald must also abide by a curfew for the second two months of his conditional term and refrain from consuming alcohol or non-prescribed drugs.

But Semenuk refused an application by Simic to include a condition that MacDonald perform 25 hours of community service, during the pandemic.

Instead, he ordered MacDonald to donate $250 to charity.

On Twitter: @KMartinCourts

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