Quebecer busted in U.S. for $1.3M in cocaine
MONTREAL - A senior security guard at an elite Quebec private school is facing a serious criminal charge in Illinois after more than $1 million worth of cocaine was allegedly found in his vehicle.
The unexpected bust reportedly started when a patroller in suburban Chicago spotted motorist Sylvain Bergeron talking on his cellphone behind the wheel.
A short time later, police allegedly discovered a cargo of cocaine worth an estimated $1.3 million on the street, reported local newspaper The Herald-News.
The state's attorney office said Friday that Bergeron has been charged with transporting at least 900 grams of cocaine, though spokesman Charles Pelkie could not immediately specify the exact amount seized by officers.
Pelkie said Bergeron, 42, has been charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. If convicted, the Quebecer could face between six and 30 years in prison with no option for probation.
"It's a Class X felony, which is one of our highest-grade felonies short of murder," Pelkie said of the Jan. 10 arrest, which has stunned Bergeron's employer at the exclusive private school in the Quebec border town of Stanstead.
Bergeron has been employed at Stanstead College since 2006, said a spokesman for the $20,000-per-year secondary school.
Ross Murray said Illinois police called a college official Tuesday to inform them they had arrested Bergeron, who is in charge of nightwatchmen at the school.
"He's been a fine employee, he's loyal, responsible, so this comes as a huge surprise to us," said Murray.
"He has nothing in his file that would give us any cause for concern about anything of this nature."
Murray said Bergeron has had very little contact with students because he worked overnight shifts and at times when the school was closed. He added that Bergeron oversaw scheduling for nightwatchmen and was not part of the school's administration.
"We are a very close community in our school, so we're all taking this quite hard," he said.
"Our thoughts are with the family, Mr. Bergeron's family."
Murray said all staff members undergo a police background check before they are hired. It's too early, he added, to say whether the school would conduct an internal investigation.
"We have no reason to believe that anyone else in the school, or employees or students for that matter, are involved in this in anyway," he said.
Bergeron, who is being held in the Will County jail in Joliet, Ill., appeared in court Monday. He's due to appear before a judge again on Feb. 3 for a preliminary hearing or arraignment.
Pelkie said his bond was set at $2 million and he would have to post 10 per cent of that amount (or $200,000) to secure his release while awaiting trial.
Bergeron, who's listed on the Will County Sheriff's Office website at 6-2 and 315 lbs, was also given traffic violations for improper lane usage and for handling an electronic communication device while driving.