Cocaine trafficker in Project Harden case sentenced

Some of the drugs and roughly $100,000 in cash shown May 28, 2015 following a multi-police force investigation called Project Harden. The investigation culminated May 27, 2015 with the arrests of eight people. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – An Ottawa man will be spending one year less a day in jail after being convicted of drug trafficking in the high profile Project Harden case.

Mesaed Rashed, 29, was sentenced Tuesday in a Cornwall courtroom.

Rashed had pleaded guilty on Dec. 15, 2016 to two counts of drug trafficking and three counts of breach of recognizance.

Rashed had been caught up in the larger Project Harden case after a principal trafficker in that ring had referred a cocaine purchaser to Rashed, not knowing that the buyer was actually a police informant.

Court heard during the December court appearance that Rashed had sold cocaine six times on five separate occasions to the undercover police agent – a connection established through Pierre Nassif.

Nassif – a principal player in the handgun and cocaine trafficking ring – was given a five-and-a-half year prison sentence in October 2016.

There was approximately nine ounces of cocaine sold to the agent involved in a broader investigation (Project Harden) at the time, Crown attorney Claude Richer said.

Rashed wasn’t sentenced in December because the judge had concerns about Rashed’s health. Court had heard how Rashed, who has a chronic problem with ulcers, had lost 50 pounds over 155 days while behind bars for a previous drug-related conviction.

The judge wanted a full medical report prior to sentencing. “Jail sentence is not a death sentence. If I put him in custody for any period of time, I fear for the health of Mr. Rashed,” Judge Peter Griffiths said. “I need to know that the jails can properly care for him.”

Tuesday’s sentence would suggest that the judge was satisfied with the information he received.

In addition to the one-year-less-a-day sentence, Rashed also has a ten year firearms ban, has to submit a DNA sample and has three years to pay a $1,000 victim fine surcharge.

The balance of the charges (eight) were withdrawn by the Crown.