Conspiracy, drug charges dropped after accused dies

Sylvio Saulnier is shown leaving the Moncton courthouse in early 2020.  (Shane Magee/CBC - image credit)
Sylvio Saulnier is shown leaving the Moncton courthouse in early 2020. (Shane Magee/CBC - image credit)

Conspiracy and drug charges against Sylvio Saulnier, the son of a Dieppe couple whose 2019 deaths remain unsolved, were dropped Thursday because he is dead.

Saulnier, 48, had faced charges of possession of methamphetamine and cocaine for the purpose of trafficking as well as conspiring with several other people to commit an indictable offence.

Crown prosecutor Christian Girouard confirmed to CBC News he asked for the charges to be withdrawn Thursday because RCMP informed him Saulnier has died.

A New Brunswick Court of King's Bench judge withdrew the charges, ending the case.

A statement from the New Brunswick RCMP sent in response to a question about Saulnier's death says a 48-year-old was found dead in a home on McRae Street in Campbellton on Jan. 12.

"At this time, police do not believe criminality to be a factor in the man's death," Cpl. Hans Ouellette, a spokesperson for the New Brunswick RCMP, said in the statement.

Found by police after missing court

A trial was scheduled to begin at the end of February.

Michel DesNeiges, a defence lawyer who had been representing Sauliner, said he withdrew from the case late last year after Saulnier failed to appear in court for a pre-trial hearing.

An arrest warrant for Sauliner was issued after he missed another pre-trial hearing on Jan. 11.

The statement from RCMP said police went to the McRae Street home to arrest a person on Jan. 12.

When the person didn't answer the door, the statement says, police became concerned for the person's wellbeing, entered the residence and found the man dead.

Ouellette said the coroner's office is assisting with the investigation into the man's death.

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

Saulnier owned a duplex on Dominion Street in Moncton that was raided by RCMP on Aug. 28, 2019, as part of a drug-trafficking investigation called J-Trilogy.

The investigation targeted a trafficking network in Moncton and the Fredericton areas. Jesse Todd Logue, who police alleged led the network, was sentenced to 8½ years in prison in 2021.

The Saulnier charges alleged offences between July 4, 2019, and Sept. 1, 2019, though he wasn't charged until 2021.

The case has drawn attention because Saulnier's parents, 78-year-old Bernard Saulnier and 74-year-old Rose-Marie Saulnier, were found dead in their home on Amirault Street in Dieppe on Sept. 7, 2019, only days after the duplex he owned was searched by police.

So far no one has been arrested or charged in connection with their deaths.

Fair Haven Funeral Home
Fair Haven Funeral Home

Ouellette said Thursday that the investigation into the deaths of the couple is still going on.

"Investigators are actively working on investigational leads, including information that has been brought forward through tips from the public," Ouellette said.

"We continue to ask anyone who may have information to contact the N.B. RCMP's major crime unit."

Police have previously issued statements saying it would be "premature to speculate on a connection" between the search of the duplex and the deaths of Bernard and Rose-Marie Saulnier.

The J-Trilogy investigation led to a series of criminal charges not just against the alleged drug network, but some officers involved in the case.

Three RCMP members were charged with obstructing justice by destroying evidence during a criminal investigation, though the charges were later dropped.

Two of the officers faced an RCMP code of conduct hearing last year. One officer was cleared at the conclusion of the process, while the officer who admitted deleting a 25-minute surveillance video was docked 25 days' pay.

During the conduct hearing, one of the officers suggested Logue's drug network was behind the deaths of parents in Dieppe, though the officer did not name the person he was referring to.