Jail guard who smuggled pills into WCC gets 2 year sentence

A former correctional officer caught smuggling Ritalin pills at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre (WCC) was sentenced to two years in prison Sept. 28.

A former correctional officer caught smuggling Ritalin pills at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre (WCC) was sentenced to two years in prison Sept. 28.

Michael Gaber, 48, will be sent to a federal penitentiary in British Columbia, where he relocated after his release on bail before trial.

He was convicted of possessing methylphenidate for the purpose of trafficking back on June 13.

In his judgment, Justice Ron Veale said the former jail guard didn’t have a previous criminal record, a strong mitigating factor.

But as a correctional officer, Veale said, Gaber abused his position of trust when smuggling the pills.

Gaber knew WCC housed people with addictions, the jail’s security protocols, and that bringing contraband into the jail created problems for inmates and jail guards alike, Veale wrote.

“He shared that he knew it was wrong in the beginning but he became desensitized to the internal conflict within himself as the pressures from the outside increased,” Veale wrote, quoting from a pre-sentencing report.

The case stems from December, 2013, when WCC officials got a tip that Gaber would try to smuggle contraband into the jail.

Upon his arrival Gaber was searched, leading to the discovery of 59 pills of Ritalin wrapped in a condom.

WCC officials also searched his car, retrieving a bag of marijuana.

But because the search of Gaber’s car was illegal — officials didn’t have a warrant for the car — Veale excluded that evidence from trial.

Gaber never disputed that he brought pills in the jail. Instead the defence challenged Health Canada’s analysis of one of the pills.

His lawyer argued the poor quality of the analysis raised a reasonable doubt that the pills actually contained methylphenidate, the active substance in Ritalin.

Veale rejected the argument and convicted Gaber.

During trial Crown prosecutor Eric Marcoux played a recording of Gaber’s interrogation. In it Gaber admits smuggling pills and tobacco but claimed not knowing what they were.

He said he was feeling pressure from inmates to bring in contraband.

Veale noted that Gaber told the RCMP he had been bringing contraband into the WCC for a year before his arrest. Family or friends of inmates paid him.

The defence argued he smuggled drugs because he was trying to pay his wife’s bills, while Marcoux said the smuggling was purely selfish.

Regardless, Veale ruled, it was motivated by financial gain.

Gaber could be out of prison in as little as eight months if he is granted a conditional release. That would allow him to serve the rest of his sentence in the community.

The case took its toll on Gaber, the judge noted, who had to cash in his RRSPs to pay his lawyer and ended up declaring bankruptcy.

During the sentencing hearing, his lawyer said Gaber had to stay in segregation for his own safety the entire time he was held at WCC after his arrest.

On top of the prison sentence, Gaber will be banned from owning or using a firearm for 10 years, and has to provide a DNA sample to the RCMP.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

UPDATED: Porter Creek highway shooting now attempted murder investigation

Police believe incident was “targeted and related to the illicit drug trade and organized crime”

Inuvik mayor pens letter of concern about Dempster conditions

Conditions near Eagle Plains have been “terrible” the past two summers, she says

Yukon skiers embrace experience at Winter Youth Olympic Games

Derek Deuling and Sasha Masson skied for Team Canada at the 2020 Lausanne Winter Youth Olympic Games

‘It was terribly traumatic to lose a patient,’ nurse says during Blackjack inquest

The inquest is now happening at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre

Whitehorse council and staff consider low-income transit fares

The discussion leaves anti-poverty coalition members feeling optimistic

Today’s mailbox: Biomass, fire

Letters to the editor published Jan. 24

EDITORIAL: The health department needs a time-out

The information and privacy commissioner deserves to be treated better

Yukon Rivermen face tough tests on the road

The team is in the middle of its busiest stretch of the season — 10 league games in three weeks

Yukon skiers battle both rain and heavy snowfall at 2020 Haywood Western Canada Cup

“They also realize that you have to be ready for anything — extreme cold or extreme warm.”

City news, briefly

Some of the discussions from Whitehorse city council on Jan 20

Driving with Jens: Both motorists and pedestrians have responsibilities when sharing the road

Roadways are a shared-use public resource. They are meant to be shared… Continue reading

Today’s mailbox: Biomass

Letters to the editor published Jan. 17

Most Read