Whitehorse man convicted of cocaine charge

A Whitehorse man, whose fingerprints were found on a bag wrapped around a kilogram of cocaine, has been convicted of possession for the purpose of trafficking.

A Whitehorse man, whose fingerprints were found on a bag wrapped around a kilogram of cocaine, has been convicted of possession for the purpose of trafficking.

After a three-day trial, 34-year-old Kuntoniah Graham was convicted Thursday afternoon in Yukon Supreme Court.

Justice Randall Wong found Graham guilty and dismissed the idea that his prints could have gotten on the plastic bag some harmless way – like during a barbecue – as “fanciful speculation.”

Crown Eric Marcoux told the court he would be seeking a lengthy federal prison sentence for Graham.

For now, the judge agreed he could continue to be out on bail under conditions including a curfew.

The case will be back in court in November.

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.”

During the trial 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.

His lawyer insisted that the events described by the informant never happened.

He urged the judge not to believe what the informant said. The man received nearly a quarter of a million dollars to work with police and admitted on the stand that he hated Graham.

The judge didn’t buy the argument that the informant could have picked up the drugs elsewhere and brought them to the police.

Officers who followed the informant and watched the house would have seen something, he said.

Wong called the informant an “unsavoury character” who was violent and often acted as an enforcer for the organization.

But he was also a “pragmatic realist,” the judge said. The only way for him to start a new life was to co-operate with the police.

Police officers testified that if they caught him lying they would have cancelled his contract.

Before Graham is sentenced, Tarnow has asked that both a pre-sentence report and a Gladue report be completed, to take into account his aboriginal ancestry.

Graham was originally also facing a charge of trafficking. That one was stayed because it is considered to overlap with the possession charge.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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