Graham sentenced to 2.5 years for drug trafficking

A Whitehorse man whose fingerprints were found on a bag wrapped around a kilogram of cocaine has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

A Whitehorse man whose fingerprints were found on a bag wrapped around a kilogram of cocaine has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

Kuntoniah Graham, 35, was convicted of possession for the purpose of trafficking last fall following a three-day trial.

Yukon Supreme Court Justice Randall Wong delivered his decision in court Monday morning.

Graham was one of multiple people charged after a lengthy police investigation dubbed Project Monolith. Police have called it “one of the most significant organized crime investigations in the territory to date.”

Crown prosecutor Eric Marcoux told the court he was seeking a three to three and a half year sentence for Graham. The maximum sentence for this crime is life in prison.

Graham showed no remorse for his crime and did not plead guilty, Marcoux added.

He explained that Graham ran his own taxi business and made upwards of $7,000 per month.

He had no drug addictions and Marcoux said there was no explanation for Graham committing this kind of crime.

Defence lawyer David Tarnow said the court should consider Graham’s aboriginal background, as well as his limited criminal record and the fact that he has two young children when sentencing. He was seeking a one-year sentence.

Graham’s mother, Viola Papequash, and her husband, Johnny Brass, testified in support of Graham.

His mother talked about the six years she’d spent at residential school. She said it made her unable to give her kids emotional support. Brass, an outreach support worker, said Graham could benefit from taking part in a land-based healing program at the Jackson Lake Healing Camp, where he acts as camp caretaker.

Tarnow also referenced Graham’s Gladue report. That’s a document that contains detailed explanations of someone’s aboriginal history and the impact it had on their lives. It provides judges with information for helping with rehabilitation and sentencing.

But Marcoux argued the Gladue report was not relevant as there has be some kind of connection between the crime and a person’s history.

In this case, there was none, he said.

During Graham’s trial last fall, the judge heard from a former drug dealer turned police agent.

His identity is protected by a publication ban because he is now part of the witness protection program.

The man told the court that on April 30, 2013 he went to a house in Porter Creek and picked up the drugs from inside the stove drawer.

When he got there Graham was at the house, he said.

The informant asked if “the work” was still there, referring to the cocaine.

Graham said yes and pointed to the stove drawer, he said.

The man picked up a brown paper Super A bag and brought it back to the RCMP safe house.

RCMP officers testified that inside the brown bag was a white plastic one, and inside that were the drugs in vacuum-sealed packing.

The cocaine had a wholesale value of about $75,000 and could have been sold for up to $100,000 if it was broken down into smaller amounts, the court heard.

Graham’s fingerprints were on the white bag.

His lawyer tried to argue that the prints could have been left there some other time, like when Graham used to go to the house for barbecues.

But the judge didn’t buy it. Wong said it is conceivable that Graham was at the house to guard the drugs. He ruled Graham’s prints ended up on the plastic bag when he was putting the drugs inside.

Graham never testified in his own defence.

Jesse Ritchie, Asif Aslam and Matthew Truesdale were also arrested as part of Project Monolith. They entered guilty pleas in Yukon territorial court in late November.

The three men are scheduled to be sentenced in March.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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