TROIS-RIVIERES, Canada — Call it sweet justice.
Three men have been sentenced to prison for stealing nearly $19 million worth of Canadian maple syrup.
The ringleader, Richard Vallieres, 38, was given an eight-year sentence and ordered to pay $9.4 million in fines. If he is unable to do so, he will be hit with an additional six years behind bars, a judge ruled.
Vallieres’ father and another man, who served as a syrup reseller, were sentenced to two year terms, the Canadian Broadcasting Company reported. Some 26 people have been arrested in connection with the heist.
The elaborate plot involved Vallieres and his accomplices draining barrels of the syrup held in the warehouses of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, a regulatory body that oversees Canada’s trade, and replacing the sweet elixir with water.
The scheme came unraveled when regulators conducting a spot check found a barrel filled with water rather than the expected maple goodness.
An investigation revealed that Vallieres and his partners had walked off with 3,000 tons of syrup over the course of several months in 2012.
Vallieres claimed he only participated in the scheme out of fear of a crooked syrup dealer who had had threatened him with a gun and warned that his family could get hurt.
He and the others are appealing their convictions.