A former Kelowna man of the year nominee walked away from a Kelowna courtroom Tuesday with little more than a blemished reputation.
Ronald John Hockey beat a drug trafficking charge that related to his efforts to get an undercover officer a couple flaps of cocaine Feb. 5, 2010.
“I am not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Hockey was involved with trafficking,” said Judge Brad Chapman.
With the facts as they were presented, he judge surmised Hockey could be seen as the man who helped the officer buy his drugs—not the person who helped a dealer unload a product.
It was that slight delineation that saved Hockey from a criminal record, but the judge pointed out that if the standard of proof wasn’t so high, he may have come to a different conclusion.
Hockey’s responses when he got caught in a police sting operation, Chapman said, were at the very least, “concerning.”
According to the testimony of undercover police officer Const. Fred Coon, Hockey came into sight when a an attempt to hire another suspected dealer/driver were confused.
Hockey wasn’t the intended target of a sting that focused on the West Kelowna drug trade, but when he showed up as a driver, Coon was told by a superior officer to roll with it.
Coon testified that he and Hockey were outside a beer and wine store when he first brought up the subject of drugs, indirectly.
A stranger was walking by, and the officer asked him where he could get some “blow.”
The stranger told them coke could be procured in the Lawrence and Bertram Avenue area of Kelowna.
Hockey, said Coon, overheard the conversation as he was three feet away, but wasn’t going to drive his client to that area.
“He said he knew everyone,” said Coon, explaining that Hockey then drove off to a downtown restaurant and went inside.
Not long after leaving, Hockey returned and said “it was dead inside” so nothing was gained.
Coon then had Hockey pick up two other undercover officers, and the trio were taken to the closest bar on the Westside — Friends.
Hockey walked around and talked to other patrons, but nothing happened.
In short order, they whole crew were driven to Whiskey Jacks pub, at the undercover officer’s behest.
They weren’t at that pub long enough to make a drink order, when Const. Coon saw a black jeep pull up beside their limo.
From his vantage point, it appeared as though the interaction would be drug related so Coon went outside.
As Coon walked up, he was asked by “Sam,” the driver of the jeep, “how much?”
He said he wanted $200 worth, and left. Sam and Hockey continued to speak, he said, while the rest of them got into the back of the limo.
Sam left to “talk with his supplier” and they were driven to the parking lot of Extra Foods.
Sam then returned with the drugs and handed them to Hockey. Coon got out of the limo, thinking he’d have to make a payment, but Hockey picked it up. He then passed the flaps back to Coon.
Coon didn’t pay right away, instead waiting until he left the limo to cover off the cost of it, the drugs and a $50 tip for Hockey.
All said and done, Hockey acted as more of an intermediary than a trafficker, said the judge, as he delivered the not guilty verdict.
Hockey was not only nominated for the City of Kelowna’s man of the year award in 2001, he unsuccessfully ran for council twice before.