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Man sentenced to time served for drug charge

The last of four men arrested by Red Deer City RCMP tracking a shooting suspect has been sentenced to time served after pleading guilty in Red Deer provincial court on Tuesday to possessing cocaine for trafficking.

Winnipeg resident Anthony Cromastey, 25, was arrested with three others by police who were after a known suspect in connection with a confrontation between two groups of men at a downtown gas station on July 4, 2013.

One man was shot in the leg during the scrap.

Plain-clothes members were called the next morning to set up surveillance at the Quality Inn on Gaetz Ave. and 71st Street., where investigators believed the man suspected of the shooting had spent the night.

Cromastey and three others, including target suspect Ryan John Monias, 23, were grabbed as they exited the front door of the hotel.

Cromastey was charged with possession of crack cocaine for trafficking when members found two wrapped packages of the drug, totalling 30.4 grams, in a sports bag he had been carrying.

Defence counsel Hersh Wolch of Calgary argued during his trial on Tuesday that Cromastey’s constitutional rights were violated because police did not have reasonable or proper grounds to detain him or to search his bag.

Crown prosecutor David Inglis said police were acting in the interest of public safety, including the potential that one or more of the men in the group, whom he identified as members of the Mad Cows street gang, were packing firearms.

He repeated the testimony of one of the police officers, who said it all went down “in a matter of seconds.”

Judge Gordon Deck ruled that, although police did violate Cromastey’s rights in the takedown and subsequent arrest and detention, their actions were reasonable under the circumstances.

Cromastey changed his plea to guilty when Deck ruled that the bag and contents could be admitted as evidence.

Inglis and Wolch joined in recommending a sentence of 14 months for the nine months Cromastey has served in remand, satisfied by the time he had already served.

Deck accepted their recommendation and prohibited Cromastey from owning firearms or weapons for 10 years, a mandatory provision under the Criminal Code of Canada for the offence of which he was convicted.

Deck also ordered that his bag and contents be returned to him, minus the drugs and any items tied to them.

The other suspects arrested with him had pleaded guilty earlier on to similar charges, said Inglis. Most recently, Maskwacis resident Navarone Oldpan, 24, pleaded guilty to simple possession and was sentenced on April 3 to 240 days, with credit for 230 days served in pre-trial custody.

Lee Jay Johnson received a minimal sentence for simple possession.

Monias, who had additional matters before the courts when he entered his guilty plea, was given a global sentence of two and a half to three years for possession for trafficking and other charges, said Inglis.

No arrests were made in connection with the actual shooting.

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