Crime does not pay.
Well, yeah, maybe, I guess, some of the time.
A year ago last week I wrote a column titled, "Major Drug Bust in Canada," happy in the knowledge that a major supplier of drugs to North American racing had been caught and put out of business.
This is what I wrote:
"In a coordinated action by five enforcement agencies, a major distributor of erythropoietin (EPO) and other prohibited substances has been apprehended in Ontario. A sophisticated laboratory was shut down, large quantities of controlled and adulterated drugs were seized, and extensive computer files were discovered.
"The bust was conducted by combined forces of the Ontario Provincial Police Illegal Gaming Unit, the United states Food and Drug Administration, the Ontario Racing Commission Investigative Unit, Harness Tracks of America’s and the United States Trotting Association’s Standardbred Investigative Services, and the Toronto Police. One man was charged, but considerably more will be heard about this case and its far-reaching ramifications. Aranesp, the potent form of EPO was blatantly being advertised on the Web site involved, and strong analgesics, bronchial dilators and other performance enhancers were found in the raid."
Great news, eh? Law enforcement at its best.
That’s what I thought, too, when I wrote about the bust.
I figured, as others did, that with all those cops and a computer with names of customers, the guy arrested would be sent away for years, and his information used to nail other crooks.
The man was a fellow named Sandy DiFlorio, and for one solid year I and others heard nothing further about Mr. DiFlorio or his illegal operation.
Then, last week, Sandy showed up again, this time in Provincial Criminal Court in Ontario.
He pled guilty to two charges: unlawful fabrication, packaging and distribution of drugs without a license, and the unlawful sale of a schedule F drug (EPO) contrary to Ontario’s Food and Drugs Act.
Now. those of us who followed the original story figured, Sandy will get the sands of justice thrown in his face. They will throw the book at this guy,
As things turned out, that’s not quite what happened.
Either Sandy DiFlorio has the best lawyer north of Niagara Falls, or encountered the worst judge south of Hudson Bay, or the laws of Ontario need some shoring up on the drug trade, or all of the above.
Sandy DiFlorio was ordered to pay $300 on each charge, in Canadian currency, and walk out the door.
Rob McKinney, deputy direct of the Ontario Racing Commission, issued a release following the Provincial Court’s action, which included this paragraph:
"The efforts of the community-funded Equine Medication Control and Drug Task Force will continue to identify and submit for prosecution those individuals who distribute illegal and non-therapeutic drugs and medications to the horse racing community. That community has sent a clear message: that the acquisition, possession and administration of such harmful substances will not be tolerated."
The release went on to remind all licensees of the Racing Commission that severe penalties would be imposed on anyone found to have acquired, be in possession of, or administered EPO to a horse. "The vigilant commitment to a program of out-of-competition testing based on change of performance and reasonable cause continues, supported by new advancements in testing technology," McKinney’s release read.
I called Rob McKinney to ask him about Sandy DiFlorio and his $600 fines.
"That was not a commission action," he said. "DiFlorio was never licensed by the Ontario Racing Commission, so we had no grounds or power to do anything to him."
The release said the Provincial Criminal Court ordered forfeiture of DiFlorio’s computers, drugs, chemicals, paraphernalia and documents.
There is a lesson here somewhere.
I suppose, in simplest terms, it is that if you’re going to deal in drugs, don’t get licensed by any government agency, back up your computer information, and hope for a court like the Provincial Criminal Court in Ontario when you’re nailed.
Everyone will get the clear message then that "acquisition, possession and administration of harmful substances will not be tolerated."
Oh, and one other thing we almost forgot.
Make sure you have $600 bucks when you go to court.