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Murder conspirator earns more jail time for drug trafficking

Brandon Glasco
Brandon Glasco

Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court judge sentences Brandon Glasco to serve 16 more months once he’s finished his murder conspiracy sentence

Like the judge who sentenced Brandon Glasco last month for a murder conspiracy, Justice Vikas Khaladkar has rejected the argument that Glasco was the most minor “bit player” in a criminal scheme, sentencing him this week to 16 more months behind bars on drug charges.

All Glasco’s convictions relate to his association with Dustin Etheridge, whose suspected involvement in drug trafficking became the subject of a joint RNC/RCMP investigation in the spring of 2018. Police used wiretaps, hidden recording devices and surveillance to gain insight into Etheridge’s activities and associates; Glasco, then 19, was among them.

Police heard conversations in which Glasco spoke of wanting pure cocaine to which a cutting agent could be added to increase profit. There were other conversations about him owing Etheridge money for drugs.

“The conversations were guarded and coded, evincing an intention to thwart any potential police investigation into their criminal enterprise and avoid detection,” Khaladkar said.

Police first arrested Glasco on May 16, 2018, the same day they arrested Etheridge and another associate, John Squires, as they were about to murder a man.

Glasco, who wasn’t charged with participating in the murder plot until months later, was arrested as he approached Etheridge’s downtown St. John’s condo. Police seized from him $290, weigh scales, two cellphones and a baggie of white powder later found to contain 9.36 grams of cocaine. He had originally pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiring to traffic cocaine and possession of cocaine for the purposes of trafficking, but changed his plea and signed an agreed statement of facts instead.

Glasco is currently serving a five-year jail sentence for his role in the murder conspiracy, having been sentenced at the beginning of October. Police had learned during their drug investigation that Etheridge and some of his associates were planning to kill another man, Brad Summers, with the goal of effecting their plan May 16. Glasco lured Summers to a location where others could ambush, shoot and kill him, Justice Robert Stack determined, noting Glasco had fulfilled his role in the murder plot, which was thwarted only by police intervention at the last minute.

Etheridge pleaded guilty to the murder conspiracy and a range of drug, weapon and other charges, earning a 10-year jail sentence.

Glasco’s lawyer, Tony St. George, made similar sentencing arguments for Glasco's drug charges to those he had made for the murder conspiracy charge. Glasco, now 21, entered a stable relationship since committing the crimes and is a committed father with prospects of rehabilitation, St. George said. Glasco was a “bit player” in the drug trafficking operation, acting on Etheridge’s direction, the defence lawyer submitted, suggesting a jail term of 10-12 months to be served consecutive to his current sentence.

Prosecutor Elaine Reid argued for a jail term of 18-24 months, consecutive to Glasco’s current sentence. Both lawyers indicated they had reduced their submissions to account for the principle of totality, which requires the court to deliver, in the case of multiple convictions, a total sentence that is not so excessive or harsh as to impede an offender’s prospects for rehabilitation.

Taking that principle into account, Khaladkar sentenced Glasco to 16 months in prison, to be served after his current jail term is completed. He also banned Glasco from possessing firearms for a decade after his release and ordered the drugs and money forfeited.

Glasco’s participation in the drug operation was not at the lowest end of the spectrum, Khaladkar ruled, adding drug trafficking crimes are serious, given the damage that results.

“(Glasco) was not merely a street-level drug dealer. The offender was part of a criminal hierarchy involved in the trafficking of cocaine and marijuana. It is clear from the intercepts in this case that the offender was attempting to bolster his position within the organization,” the judge wrote in his sentencing decision. “Despite those attempts, however, the offender had not as yet succeeded in achieving what would be characterized as a middle-level status within the pyramid.”

Tara Bradbury reports on justice and the courts in St. John’s.


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