House arrest for Sarnia cocaine dealer after receiving treatment

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Had Joseph Dionne been sentenced in the spring after pleading guilty to selling cocaine, his drug rehabilitation efforts — and their impact on whether he was jailed or under house arrest — would have been woefully inadequate, a judge has said. of Sarnia.

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“But he was not sentenced at that time,” Judge Krista Lynn Leszczynski said earlier this week in a Sarnia courtroom while delivering her decision on Dionne’s sentence. “He is sentenced today and since that time he has made significant progress.”

Dionne, a dealer addict captured on June 30, 2021, with over 138 grams of cocaine worth nearly $14,000, as well as over $4,000 in cash, initially attempted to abstain from drugs on his own. But after a relapse, he agreed to seek help and has since completed several programs and attends meetings regularly.

The prosecutor, asking for 15 months in prison, had previously expressed concerns that Dionne had only agreed to seek treatment because of his impending sentencing.

“That motivation doesn’t take anything away, in my view, from the fact that the work has been done and the benefits have been earned,” Leszczynski said.

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Defense attorney Joseph Stoesser previously asked for 15 months as well, but he was given house arrest, followed by another nine months of home life under a curfew. After taking time to consider an appropriate sentence, Leszczynski this week sided with Stoesser, but increased the house arrest portion of the suspended sentence from two years to 18 months.

The judge told Dionne he had a significant chance of continuing his rehab at home with GPS tracking rather than inside a jail cell.

“I implore you, Mr. Dionne, to continue on this path and to make these changes so that we do not see you again in this court,” she said.

“I will,” he replied.

The court heard Dionne, who previously struggled with alcoholism, started using cocaine around two years ago and as of 2021 was using it daily. The former train car repairman was also struggling financially at the time and began making what he later admitted in a pre-sentence report was the wrong decision to start selling the drug.

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The Sarnia Police Vice Unit, armed with warrants to search two homes on Borden Street and Colborne Road connected to Stroesser, arrested him in a car around 4 p.m. on June 30, 2021. Police found drugs and money in all three locations as well as various weapons and paraphernalia.

Dionne, who had no previous drug convictions on his criminal record, was released on bail shortly thereafter. Following his guilty plea to the trafficking charge, he expressed genuine remorse, the judge recalled.

“He apologized to the court, his friends and his family for his actions,” Leszczynski said. “I was especially impressed that he said that whatever sentence I impose, he will and will continue to make the changes he needs to fight his addictions and become a better person.”

Dionne cannot drink or take drugs while serving her two-year suspended sentence. After this is over, he will be on probation for two years.

The money and drugs seized the day of his arrest were confiscated.

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@ObserverTerry

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