A local businessman whose defence counsel described as the "smartest" member of the local Rock Machine was sentenced to 12 years in prison this morning.
Todd Kenneth Murray, 44, received the longest prison sentence handed out to date to the 11 individuals rounded up by the RCMP at the end of January in a lengthy drug investigation dubbed Project Dilemma.
Murray got a longer sentence than that given last month to Joseph John Strachan, the president of the local Rock Machine chapter, who got a nine-year sentence after he pleaded guilty to several drug and gang related charges in a plea bargain arrangement.
This morning, court was told that RCMP raided Murray’s home and workplace, the family-owned Ken’s Kustom Auto on Wall Street, on Jan. 30 and seized $300,000 in cash, a large cache of cocaine, handguns, ammunition and explosives --including a pipe bomb and sticks of dynamite.
In a plea bargain arrangement, Murray pleaded guilty to several charges, including trafficking cocaine in association with a criminal organization; trafficking cocaine; trafficking firearms; possession of a loaded prohibited weapon with ammunition; possessing explosives; and possessing cocaine for the purposes of trafficking.
The RCMP raid effectively broke up the local chapter of the Rock Machine, taking all five of its members into custody, along with several independent local drug dealers who worked with the gang.
Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal was presented a joint recommendation for a 12-year sentence.
Of the 11 individuals taken into custody, seven have already pleaded guilty and five have been given sentences ranging from 5 to 9-½ years. Teagveer Singh Gill will be sentenced in the late fall.
Joyal said he found that Murray played a key role in the small Manitoba biker gang, being responsible for decisions on importing and distributing cocaine and personally dealing with suppliers in eastern Canada.
Joyal said that Murray retained the support of his family and friends following his arrest and likely had a good future once he served his time in prison.
"It’s up to you now to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life," Joyal told Murray.
Murray was given credit for the almost six months he has served in custody since his arrest, meaning he will have to serve an additional 11½ years.
Defence counsel Roberta Campbell said Murray was an unlikely member of an outlaw motorcycle gang, adding his decision to join was made only recently.
Campbell said Murray has a Bachelor of Commerce degree, does not have a criminal record, and was working at the family-owned business. She said Murray turned to the Rock Machine in late 2011 after he had been shot in the stomach and nearly killed during a home invasion.
Campbell said Murray feared that his life continued to be in danger after the shooting and believed joining the outlaw biker gang would ensure his safety.
"He took a wrong turn in dealing with a situation in a wrong way," Campbell said.
Campbell said Murray’s key role in the biker gang fell to him by default. "Mr. Murray was holding (all the drugs, weapons and explosives) because he was the smartest one to do it," Campbell said.