An emotional Robinderpal “Robin” Rathor was barely able to speak at his sentencing hearing for money laundering on Thursday (Sept. 8) in Surrey Provincial Court.
The 33-year-old former owner of a Langley currency exchange sat miserably slumped in his chair, sniffling audibly, as the court heard how Rathor, the owner of a Langley currency exchange and a former corrections officer with no criminal record, was caught in an RCMP sting.
Over a six-month period from April 16 to May 26, Rathor exchanged $560,000 U.S. in four transactions for two men he believed were drug dealers.
They were actually an undercover RCMP sergeant and corporal.
The pair started with smaller transactions and hints that the money they were bringing in bags was the product of crime.
“My money is dirty,” one told Robin.
“I know that,” he replied.
As they progressed to larger amounts, the two become more direct.
“I move green down and I move white up,” one said, indicating they were exporting marijuana to the U.S. and bringing cocaine back.
“I’m not a doctor or a lawyer and the money I have with me is cocaine money,” one told Rathor.
The two currency exchanges run by Rathor were raided on May 26, 2008, one at Global Tourist Centre (GTC) at 20505 Fraser Highway, the other at Capital Forex, 5560 204 St.
At the time, the RCMP said officers were acting on a tip.
Prosecutor Charles Hough said Rathor’s profits on all the exchanges were “modest,”no more than $16,000.
“It didn’t take much to cause Robinderpal to leave the straight and narrow path,” Hough said, “just a few bucks.”
The prosecutor wants a sentence of two years less a day.
Defence lawyer Richard Peck wants house arrest.
“There are times when a person deserves a second chance,” Peck said.
“This man is such a person.”
His client has already paid a heavy price, Peck said.
Rathor’s marriage is “in tatters,” the lawyer said, adding Rathor has brought shame to himself and his family, and he’s lost $264,000 in money seized by the police from the business and the loss of the business itself.
Peck filed 85 letters of support that included two from former mayors from his home town, a retired RCMP officer and a local MLA, all saying Rathor was a person of honesty and integrity, and his flirtation with supposed drug dealers was very out of character.
No explanation for Rathor’s strange change of behavior was advanced, other than this observation by Peck.
“He [Rathor] is a person who is desperate to please,” the defence lawyer said.
“A person who is desperate to help others.”
Peck said a term of house arrest with strict conditions would meet the legal principal of deterrence and denunciation.
“I’m not asking for a kiss in the form of a milquetoast conditional sentence,” Peck said.
Then, it was Rathor’s turn to speak.
He rose and unfolded a note from his pocket.
Rathor had trouble speaking, and needed long pauses, so long the judge offered to have his lawyer read it for him.
But Rathor was able to complete his statement, offering his “sincerest apologies” to his family, friends and colleagues in the corrections service and saying he hopes to be a better example to his young son.
“I’m trying to make up for my mistakes,” the tearful Rathor said, mistakes he will “never, ever repeat.”
Judge Peder Gulbransen is scheduled to deliver his verdict on Oct. 5.
The prosecutor stayed related criminal charges against Taranjit Rathor, the younger cousin of Robinderpal and a partner in the Langley currency exchanges.
The prosecutor said the younger Rathor “took a back seat” to his older relative during the illicit transactions and was “essentially along for the ride.”
Dan Ferguson/Langley Times
Robin Rathor leaves Surrey Provincial Court followed by his cousin Taranjit.