A Yellowknife single mother struggling with addictions was swept up in two RCMP operations within a year after selling cocaine to undercover police officers.
Toni Lynette Marie Tobac was sentenced to six months in jail on Friday in Territorial Court. She was charged in March 2018 as part of the RCMP’s Project Gloomiest drugs investigation, following a so-called “dial-a-dope” operation.
Tobac agreed to meet an unknown caller outside Ciara Manor apartments in downtown Yellowknife and sold him just under a gram of cocaine, the court heard.
She pleaded guilty to a single count of trafficking under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
Tobac, 28, was on bail when she re-offended. The Crown withdrew that charge in exchange for the guilty plea.
“She was motivated by money – to buy cocaine and to allow her to get by,” said Judge Christine Gagnon.
In the same month, March 2018, Tobac had been sentenced to six months’ jail by a Supreme Court judge after being arrested one year earlier in another RCMP dial-a-dope operation – this one named Project Glacier. On that occasion, Tobac sold cocaine to an undercover police officer outside Greylyn Manor on Yellowknife’s 53 Street.
At the time of her sentencing for that trafficking conviction in 2018, a pre-sentence report stated Tobac was originally from Fort Good Hope and had a difficult upbringing, being exposed to alcoholic abuse and physical violence before entering the care of social services and a string of foster homes.
Addressing those same circumstances on Friday, Judge Gagnon – quoting from that report – said: “There was often no food in the house.”
Tobac started abusing alcohol and drugs in her teens, the court heard. She ended up living on the streets of Yellowknife.
Tobac has three children of her own and is expecting another this summer.
Her first child was apprehended by social services and she admitted abusing alcohol and drugs during her third pregnancy, the court heard.
After her first offence, Tobac was diverted into Wellness Court and had showed some promise, Gagnon noted. (Wellness Court is an alternative to regular criminal court. It offers a supervised program designed to address conditions that may contribute to re-offending.)
“Miss Tobac is working at making changes in her life and I commend her for that,” said Gagnon, but the judge added a period of incarceration was needed “to denounce crime and deter offenders from trafficking cocaine.
“It has a disastrous effect in Yellowknife and the NWT.”
Upon her release, Tobac will be on 18 months’ probation and under a 10-year firearms prohibition.