‘Illegal firearms are a plague:’ Toronto businessman gets 5 years for illegal gun sale

A successful businessman with an otherwise unblemished record has been jailed for five years for illegally selling and possessing guns in a case that left the judge scratching his head.

In a strongly worded sentencing decision, Superior Court Justice Robert Goldstein said a conditional sentence for Antonio Sampogna would send the wrong message about fairness in the justice system.

All too often, the judge said, it is young men of colour who face gun-related charges. Those accused, he said, are frequently from marginalized backgrounds and have faced significant obstacles in their lives. Sampogna bears little resemblance to them, Goldstein said.

“Imposing a conditional sentence in this case will send a message that there are harsher periods of incarceration for young men of colour than for people in Mr. Sampogna’s position,”

Goldstein wrote. “That is simply unacceptable.”

At the request of both prosecution and defence, Goldstein convicted Sampogna of a total of six offences involving possession and trafficking of firearms. The main offence involved his selling a 9-mm Luger semi-automatic rifle, along with ammunition, to a suspected drug trafficker in 2017.

Evidence was that Sampogna, 57, of Toronto, had no criminal record, was a keen hunter who legally owned three weapons, and ran his own heating and ventilation business.

The prosecution sought a minimum six-year sentence. The defence argued for a conditional sentence of up to six months, a position the judge squarely rejected.

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