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‘A bad year’ ends with jail term for Kelowna drug dealer

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009 | 9:00 am

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By Joe Fries

What her lawyer called “a bad year” has now culminated in a nine-month jail sentence for Tanya Cherney.

The 41-year-old Kelowna woman was sentenced in Kelowna provincial court on Tuesday to nine months behind bars on a single count of trafficking cocaine, after pleading guilty to selling a small amount of crack to an undercover police officer last August. Cherney also received two-month jail sentences on two other drug possession charges and one count of resisting arrest, and another week in jail for a breach of probation. A variety of other charges were stayed.

All of the sentences are concurrent, so she’ll serve just nine months, followed by a year of probation, the conditions of which include that she not use illegal drugs and not be in possession of any drug paraphernalia. She’ll also be banned from the downtown red zone. She’s been in custody since July 13 and in effect gets no credit for time served.

Court heard that Cherney’s problems flared up almost two years ago when her son, who was 11 years old at the time, was taken from her by social workers. After that, she succumbed to a latent heroin addiction and became entrenched in the Kelowna drug scene, so much so that she apparently paid her landlord with drugs.

“I was clean from heroin for 11.5 years until my son was removed,” Cherney told Judge Robin Smith.

In 1996, she was convicted of six counts of drug trafficking and handed a suspended sentence. Court heard that she cleaned up her act and even volunteered for a time with a women’s outreach service.

“She considered herself a success,” said defence counsel Michael Kennedy.

However, while he never elaborated on why his client’s son was taken from her, “That was when she decompensated and returned to the drug culture,” Kennedy said. “It’s been a bad year.”

Her first set of charges came on Aug. 8, 2008, when she sold 0.1 grams of crack cocaine to an undercover cop for $20 in the parking lot of the Capri Mall. Court heard she also gave the officer a phone number to call for future purchases.

The next set of charges the court dealt with stemmed from an incident on July 13 of this year.

An RCMP officer spotted Cherney near the corner of Leon Avenue and Pandosy Street with a a group of drug users around 8:40 a.m. The cop knew the woman was banned from the red zone by a prior court order and took her into custody after chasing her a short distance.

A search of her person turned up 0.04 grams of crack, 0.01 grams of heroin, scales and a crack pipe. She told the officer she was downtown for a legal appointment, which was later found to be false.

Kennedy actually asked for a jail sentence for his client so she could access drug-treatment programs.

“I accept, as does she, that she’s in a bit of a crisis situation in her life,” he said.

Cherney, meanwhile, told the court she had been accepted to a residential treatment program to begin Sept. 1, although Judge Smith noted that her pending court appearances for a robbery charge from this February make the prospects of attending that program “not very promising.”

He went on to say that Cherney’s is “a sad story,” but one with which he’s all too familiar.

“If there was no heroin and crack and alcohol, I’d be out a job,” Smith remarked.

'A bad year' ends with jail term for Kelowna drug dealer5.051

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