An Ottawa man is now expected to plead guilty next month to charges he is facing arising from Project Skylark – a province-wide initiative that targeted biker gangs and drug trafficking in three Ontario communities including Sudbury.
Jovin Degre-Blais, 35, was set to enter guilty pleas and be sentenced in the Ontario Court of Justice in Sudbury in late November, but that did not happen.
“He is residing in Quebec with his surety,” defence lawyer George Fournier told the court in Sudbury at the time. “I have had some discussions. He is having some reservations about what we discussed with moving forward. Now, I am confident the matter will be resolved.”
On Feb. 3, when the rescheduled sentencing hearing was to take place, however, the matter was delayed again. A new sentencing hearing date of March 2 was just set.
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Degre-Blais is facing seven charges, including two drug trafficking offences, two counts of possession of property obtained by crime, and two counts of conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
Meanwhile, Aaron (Joseph) Piccinetti, 42, of Greater Sudbury, who was also charged in Project Skylark, will have a hearing on Wednesday on his application that seeks to discard guilty pleas he entered Aug. 26, 2020, to two drug trafficking offences.
The application – which came to light on Feb. 3 when Piccinetti was supposed to have been sentenced – concerns Piccinetti’s state of mind when he entered the guilty pleas and will highlight a toxicology report. Piccinetti told the court he is no longer with his lawyer – Terry Waltenbury – and is now working with a second one.
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Federal prosecutor Michael Jones of Ottawa, who was attending court via teleconference, opposed the striking of the pleas.
“Mr. Waltenbury is an experienced counsel,” said Jones, adding that Piccinetti was also granted a delay with sentencing last August with the Crown’s approval.