A local bodybuilder at the centre of a massive methamphetamine and anabolic steroid bust was sentenced Friday to five years in prison.
Reiner Ruska, the former owner of the Herc’s Nutrition store on Upper James Street and the Fitness Nutrition store in Grimsby, pleaded guilty Friday to three counts of trafficking cocaine and anabolic steroids and one count of possessing proceeds of more than $70,000 from drug trafficking.
The 36-year-old was the main target of Project Newton, an 18-month multiple police agency investigation that involved raids of homes and businesses in nine municipalities and resulted in the arrests of 21 people last year.
Ruska’s defence lawyer, David Rose, and federal prosecutor Lisa Matthews had made a joint submission asking for a five-year sentence prior to Justice Richard Jennis’s judgment.
Rose said outside the court that Ruska was “very anxious” to move on in his life. “The sentence he received today reflects that he is still a young man … and has many good years ahead of him,” he added.
The proposed length of sentence was based on an agreed statement of facts and consideration of relevant authorities, Matthews said, adding: “We think it was a just sentence given the circumstances.”
In delivering his sentence, Jennis said Ruska’s guilty pleas were a “strong indication” of remorse and noted the bodybuilder did not have a previous record and has the skills for future lawful employment.
Project Newton found 26 kilograms or $3 million worth of crystal meth on the streets as well as $3 million worth of anabolic steroids.
The bodybuilder faced 17 counts related to the investigation; the Crown withdrew all but four.
According to the agreed statement of facts read in court Friday, police intercepted a number of communications between Ruska and others from February to April 2011 that showed he was conspiring to traffic large quantities of anabolic steroids and cocaine.
An undercover detective approached Ruska in the summer of 2010 and, over the course of the police operation, bought cocaine, marijuana and anabolic steroids from him.
On Sept. 16, 2010, Ruska sold 230 grams of powder cocaine to the officer for $9,600 at his store in Grimsby. On another occasion in December 2010, Ruska sold 255 grams of powder cocaine to the cop for $10,800, inside his car.
Ruska also arranged for Hamilton police officer Andrew Pauls to query the undercover detective’s licence plate after the detective told him he was being stopped by police a lot.
Pauls resigned from the police force and was charged with breach of trust and with stealing drugs from a secure police evidence locker in an unrelated investigation.
Ruska’s fiancée, Carla Rao, faced drug-related offences in connection to the Project Newton raids, but those charges were also withdrawn.
Ruska was released on $100,000 bail last April and ordered to live at his mother’s home on the east Mountain.
The bodybuilder’s sentence comes in the wake of another drug dealer linked to Project Newton being sentenced. Justin Bernard was sentenced earlier this month to 12 years in prison for selling and possessing 26 kilograms of crystal meth. the spec