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Friday, 12 March 2010

Crown is seeking a 12-year sentence for Randy Potts and a 16-year sentence for John Punko, who have both pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges.

Crown is seeking a 12-year sentence for Randy Potts and a 16-year sentence for John Punko, who have both pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges.They were charged after a two-year police investigation, code-named Project E-Pandora, that resulted in the roundup of half a dozen members of Vancouver's East End chapter of the Hells Angels and more than a dozen associates.While a number of charges against Hells Angels members alleged the biker gang was a criminal organization, none of the prosecutions on those charges were successful.But it's not over yet, says the officer in charge of E-Pandora."It's not necessarily the final sentencing," RCMP Insp. Gary Shinkaruk said Thursday. "I'm cautiously optimistic it'll be back in court again."
He said the Crown is appealing a number of rulings, including one by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Peter Leask last November that the Crown could not proceed on criminal organization charges against Potts and Punko.Leask made the decision because a jury at another trial last summer involving the two accused and two other Hells Angels acquitted all the bikers on similar criminal organization charges."We still want to have a ruling on the criminal organization," Shinkaruk said, noting that despite the jury ruling, no B.C. judge has ruled on the criminal organization issue.However, there was an Ontario Superior Court ruling in 2008 that the Hells Angels is a national crime group.Potts is to be sentenced today on a guilty plea last year of being involved in a drug lab that made methamphetamine.Punko pleaded guilty last Dec. 7 to three charges: producing and trafficking methamphetamine, trafficking cocaine and possessing $387,140 cash that was the proceeds of the sale of illegal drugs, including $142,500 from selling five kilograms of cocaine to Michael Plante, who worked as a police agent and infiltrated the Hells Angels chapter.Plante secretly tape-recorded conversations between Punko, Potts and a meth lab cook named Ryan Renaud, who Punko suspected was also working for the UN gang and its boss Clay Roueche.Punko was earlier convicted of threatening a prosecutor in another Hells Angels case.Last summer, a jury convicted Punko, Potts and two other Hells Angels members, Ronaldo Lising and Jean Violette, of weapons offences and extortion.
In that case, Punko, 43, was convicted of the unauthorized possession of a loaded semi-automatic Smith & Wesson pistol and sentenced to 15 months in jail, plus a consecutive sentence of four years for counselling Plante damage a Surrey home, where Punko was trying to collect a large sum of money.
Potts, 49, was convicted of four offences: having control of illegal grenades, possessing a loaded Colt .45 semi-automatic pistol, possessing an Intratec 9-mm semi-automatic pistol, a Ruger .22-calibre semi-automatic rifle and Voere bolt-action rifle and a .44 Ruger revolver. Lising was convicted of possessing two loaded prohibited firearms.

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