Kanesatake drug queen off to prison
PLEADS GUILTY TO MARIJUANA DEALING Sharon Simon arrested in Project Cleopatra, alleged to be ringleader of smuggling plot
Judging by the way she blew goodbye kisses toward her daughters, one could have mistaken Sharon Simon for someone about to head off to a Caribbean vacation instead of a federal penitentiary.
The Kanesatake woman had just pleaded guilty in Quebec Court yesterday to participating in the activities of a criminal organization and weapons charges laid after Project Cleopatra, a joint police investigation into marijuana trafficking.
In exchange for her guilty pleas, Simon, 47, benefits from a joint recommendation on sentencing that leaves her 50 months to serve on a total sentence of six years and nine months.
Rather than appearing sombre in the prisoner’s dock, Simon smiled broadly, turned toward her two adult daughters in the front row of the Laval courtroom and blew them a couple of energetic kisses.
Simon, who owns a luxury home in Kanesatake, had been behind bars since she and 35 other people were arrested in June 2006 as part of a year-long investigation by the Aboriginal Combined Forces Special Enforce- ment Unit, whose partners included the RCMP, the Sûreté du Québec and the First Nations Chiefs of Police Association.
Simon, the main focus of the probe, was alleged to have been the ringleader of a group that shipped large quantities of Quebec-grown marijuana to the United States. There, customers were willing to pay much more than the $1,600 per pound pot generally commands from local buyers.
Simon pleaded guilty to possessing marijuana, trafficking in it and being in possession of goods obtained through her criminal acts.
Crown prosecutor Sylvie Kovacevich summarized the case against Simon for Judge Paul Chevalier. She said Simon helped her daughter Annie Arbic, 22, launder about $4 million between January and June 2006 by using a contact Simon had at a money exchange counter in Montreal.
Arbic, who is still awaiting trial, is alleged to have coordinated large shipments of marijuana to the U.S. to customers who paid her and her boyfriend in U.S. dollars. For using her contact, Simon generally charged her daughter a one per cent commission. Through her contacts in the underworld, Simon was also able to find people who could grow marijuana to supply her daughter’s vast network, the prosecutor said.
Simon also helped Serge Bourret, 59, launder $2 million in drug money during the same period. Bourret pleaded guilty this year and was sentenced to a three-year prison term.
In explaining the weapons charge to the judge, Kovacevich said investigators listening to wiretaps picked up conversations between Simon and her then boyfriend, Sergio Piccirelli, who is reputed to have ties to a Mafia family based in Granby. He was looking for a semi-automatic weapon for protection.
Piccirelli, who also is awaiting trial, was involved in deals with the Hells Angels and the Mafia and wanted some protection, Kovacevich said. Simon bought the weapon soon after through a third party. On Feb. 17, 2006, she and another man were pulled over by police while riding in a car. An AK-47 assault rifle was found inside.
When Chevalier asked Simon if the facts of her case were summarized accurately, she rolled her eyes.
“I wouldn’t say it was accurate but I want to leave it as is,” Simon said.
“We’re not going to have a trial here, so I’ll just leave things as they are.”