A man who let a fentanyl and methamphetamine lab operate in the basement of his rented home has been sentenced to 10 years in jail.
Jason Lukacs, 38, was sentenced in Vernon Supreme Court by Justice Sheri Ann Donegan in August. The written ruling was posted online this week.
Court heard that Lukacs rented a home on a rural property on Silver Star Road and had been troublesome tenant. On March 31, 2017, after returning home from a 10-day vacation, landlord Kenneth Pivnick discovered a mobile drug lab in the basement of the home and called police.
“Clandestine mobile laboratories can be assembled, operated to produce illicit drugs on a short‑term basis, disassembled, and moved to another location in a short timeframe. That is precisely what happened here,” Donegan wrote in her judgment.
“Mr. Lukacs was aware that Mr. Pivnick would be absent from the property for 10 days and expected him to return on or about April 1. This provided a perfect opportunity for the mobile lab to be set up in this rural location, produce the drugs and be disassembled, all without detection.”
Lukacs “had the good sense, because of the risk of harm created by such a lab, to move his family into a local motel during this time,” the judge wrote.
The entire house was used for the drug-producing operation. Cargo trailers were parked on the driveway. The judge determined Lukacs was not the mastermind of the operation, but “he provided the rural location in which this lab could operate.”
“A jug of freebase fentanyl was found just inside the front door. A chemistry text book tabbed to a page describing fentanyl was found on the living room floor.”
When Pivnick discovered the lab, it was about to be taken down.
“Mr. Lukacs and the others who were involved planned to have the lab down by the time Mr. Pivnick was expected to return the next day," Donegan wrote.
Court heard Lukacs had a troubled upbringing and issues with drug use, but no criminal record prior to this arrest. “Since then, he has accrued several convictions, five of which involve violations of court orders and two are for property‑related offences,” the judgment said.
Lukacs and his partner have two children. “Their son is in the care of MCFD and their daughter is with Mr. Lukacs’ friend.”
Pivnick, who lived in another house on the property, told the court the cleanup cost him more than $60,000.
Lukacs lawyers argued he was not a central figure in the operation “but rather only a sponsor, someone who made his home available for a mobile drug lab to operate.”
The judge considered Lukacs’ remorse, his offer to try to repay his landlord and clean record prior to the offence, but “Mr. Lukacs’ offences are very grave. Participating in the production of opioid drugs, especially ones with the lethal potency and destructive effects as fentanyl and methamphetamines, are among the most serious offences in our criminal law … These offences are at the top of the supply chain.
“While he had the common sense to move his family out during the production, he imperilled the lives of his fellow citizens by creating a very hazardous situation in the home,” the judge wrote. “It took three decontaminations and renovations for it to be safe for Mr. Pivnick to live there.”
Lukacs received eight years for production of methamphetamine and 10 for producing fentanyl to be served concurrently, minus credit for 278 days in jail already served.