The former chief of the Key First Nation in Saskatchewan has been given a six-month conditional sentence for trafficking morphine while he was in office.

Clarence Papequash will be under 24-hour house arrest for the first six weeks of his sentence, and he must abide by several conditions.

In a scathing written decision Friday, Queen’s Bench Justice Jennifer Pritchard said the fact that Papequash committed the offence while he was chief is an aggravating factor.

“It is an indisputable reality that (the Key First Nation) struggles with drugs and alcohol,” Pritchard said.

“Mr. Papequash has directly contributed to this serious problem and has violated the trust that was reposed in him by virtue of his office and stature in the community.”

Pritchard said it's also aggravating that Papequash works as a drug counsellor. He formerly served on the board of the Saulteaux Healing and Wellness Centre, which provides treatment for alcohol and drug addiction.

“He must have had first-hand knowledge of the horrors involved in drug abuse,” Pritchard said.

“It was his job to be part of the solution. Instead, he has been part of the problem.”

Papequash, 61, was among two dozen people charged in connection with an alleged prescription drug ring that operated in the Yorkton and Kamsack areas.

He pleaded guilty to trafficking morphine after he was arrested in an undercover sting at his home on the reserve, located north of Yorkton, in November 2010.

The court heard Papequash arranged for his wife to sell half a pill of morphine to a man, who was working as an undercover agent for the RCMP.

At a sentencing hearing in May, a lawyer for Papequash said the man had “pestered” the chief for drugs in the past.

He argued that his client only arranged the transaction with his wife to get the man “who was hounding him” out of his house.

Papequash stepped down as chief of the Key First Nation in May. He was first elected to the position in 2008 and was re-elected in 2010 and 2012.

“His loss of the leadership position is an appropriate repercussion from these illegal activities,” Pritchard said.

“He is clearly not qualified to lead his community in addressing its most pressing issues.”