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Ex-prison worker apologizes for trafficking scheme

Stony Mountain Penitentiary.

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Stony Mountain Penitentiary. (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES)

Justice officials are seeking a six-year prison sentence for a "corrupted employee" at Stony Mountain Institution caught trying to smuggle drugs into the medium-security federal prison.

John Lightfoot, 59, appeared in court Wednesday to deal with trafficking charges stemming from his 2011 arrest. He is seeking a three-year term.

Provincial court Judge Carena Roller has reserved her decision until Jan. 8. Lightfoot remains free on bail. He has no prior criminal record.

"I want to apologize to everyone for what I've done," a tearful Lightfoot told court.

Lightfoot had worked at Stony for more than a decade as a mason instructor, helping inmates learn the craft, court was told. He was caught trying to bring ecstasy, crystal meth and prescription pills into the facility. RCMP seized the drugs, along with cash and other items, from a vehicle parked outside the prison.

The Crown called expert evidence Wednesday about the prevalence of prison drug smuggling and the impact such offences have on inmates, many of whom are struggling with addictions.

"A corrupted employee has potential to do far more damage than anybody else," said Crown attorney Jasmine Zurbriggen.

She told court it's likely Lightfoot had done this before and would have thwarted efforts to rehabilitate drug-addicted prisoners.

"He was running a calculated and tested operation," she said.

No other arrests were made in this case.

Defence lawyer John Corona told court his client was desperate for money to pay off extensive gambling debts. Lightfoot claims a mystery message was left on his desk asking him if he wanted to make some quick cash. It told him to park his vehicle outside a Transcona-area restaurant, where several packages were then put inside, he said.

"At the time this happened he was in a bad place mentally," said Corona.

Lightfoot denies knowing what was in the shipment, a fact both the Crown and the judge questioned Wednesday. Lightfoot then "chickened out," his lawyer claims, and decided not to bring the packages into his workplace before he was caught.

Corona argued a six-year sentence would "do him in" given his age and health problems. As well, Lightfoot fears the type of treatment he would receive as a former federal prison worker serving time in such a facility.


Updated on Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 10:02 AM CST:
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