KITCHENER — A Waterloo restaurant manager had a side job during the pandemic — selling cocaine.
In March 2021, police found nearly a pound (454 grams) of cocaine and $12,000 in Nicole Kopiasz’s home. Fourteen cell phones were seized.
Kopiasz, 31, pleaded guilty this week to possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking and was sent to prison for 30 months.
The Kitchener woman, who completed a culinary arts program at Conestoga College, began working as a restaurant waitress before becoming a manager, the court heard. Kopiasz was also about to get his real estate license.
“She’s got skills, she’s got talents, she’s got abilities – what gets her into (drug dealing) in the first place?” Judge Matthew Stanley asked his defense attorney in court.
“Her position during COVID was very dire and she turned to the easy way out to fund her lifestyle, as well as her schooling, and sadly she chose that route,” Daniel Mulak replied.
“The position of the defense is that it was a stupid mistake on their part to participate in such ventures and that they take responsibility today.”
Kopiasz has no criminal record.
The trafficking conviction means she can’t work as a real estate agent, but the restaurant in Waterloo will have a managerial position waiting for her when she gets out of prison, Mulak said.
Stanley accepted a joint recommendation from Mulak and federal prosecutor Andrew Nisker for 30 months in prison.
The police began to investigate after being informed that Kopiasz was selling drugs. They got a search warrant for his house on Bankside Crescent. Officers also seized four firearms, which were legally owned and locked away in his home.
Kopiasz was arrested when she pulled into a Husky gas station on Highland Road West in Kitchener.
It was an unsophisticated drug operation, Nisker said. Kopiasz’s car was registered in his name, a mistake an experienced drug dealer wouldn’t make. She has been described as a street vendor.
The Crown said 30 months in jail is on the lower end of the range. Nisker agreed because there may have been Charter issues at trial, coupled with the fact that she had pleaded guilty, a sign of remorse.
And 30 months, he said, is a significant sentence for someone who has never been behind bars.
The judge issued a weapons ban on Kopiasz and ordered the firearms and cash confiscated. She has to donate a DNA sample for the national database.
Kopiasz has good prospects for rehabilitation, the judge said.
“Whatever pressures drove you to this, whether it was greed, whether it was lifestyle, all those things, you have the capabilities to avoid that down the road,” Stanley told him.