News Item: (CAN) Former Montreal cop Benoit Roberge pleads guilty in Hells informant case
(Category: Blue GANG News)
Posted by ace
Friday 14 March 2014 - 01:36:15

MONTREAL — Benoit Roberge was willing to give up one of the most important prosecution witnesses police in Quebec currently have under protection in an attempt to save his career.

The detail is one of many contained in documents made public Thursday after Roberge, 50, a retired member of the Montreal police, pleaded guilty to two charges filed against him last year after the Sûreté du Québec learned he was selling information to a member of the Hells Angels.

Roberge pleaded guilty to participating in the activities of a criminal organization and breach of trust. The guilty plea came with a joint recommendation that Roberge receive a prison term totalling eight years. Quebec Court Judge Robert Marchi said he will make his decision on the sentence on April 4.

The plea hearing included several revelations about how Roberge sold information to René (Balloune) Charlebois, a Hells Angel who was serving a life sentence at the Montée St-François Institution, a minimum security penitentiary in Laval, for having killed a police informant in 2000.

Information contained in documents the SQ used to obtain warrants in their investigation of Roberge allege that one week before Charlebois escaped from the penitentiary, on Sept. 14, he called Roberge and informed the former police officer that he had recorded several of their telephone conversations.

According to a man who knew Charlebois and acted as a go-between for the Hells Angel and Roberge, the retired police officer panicked when he learned about the recordings and offered to make a deal. During the SQ's investigation, the go-between told investigators Roberge, who had just started a second career with Revenue Quebec, was worried the life he had built would fall apart. He also alleged Roberge was willing to give up the secret location of Sylvain Boulanger, a former Hells Angel expected to be called as a prosecution witness in upcoming murder trials related to Operation SharQc, a major investigation into the biker gang.

This detail wasn't mentioned when Roberge pleaded guilty Thursday and the prosecution acknowledged some of the information provided by the go-between, whose name was placed under a publication ban by Marchi, turned out to be false. For example, the go-between claimed Roberge made $500,000 for supplying the information that he did. According to information heard in court Thursday, Roberge actually pocketed $115,000.

Roberge spoke during his hearing and added a detail not contained in the court documents released on Thursday. He told Marchi he was initially roped into giving Charlebois information because the Hells Angel threatened the life of one of his relatives.

"Your Honour, my life has been destroyed. The fight begins today for the good of my family which has suffered enormously. And I want to offer my apologies to the society I served for 28 years at the risk and peril of my life and that of my family. I take the entire responsibility for my acts which were done under the influence of a threat toward (the relative whose name is under a publication ban) by René Charlebois."

"(My) message to other police officers is that if you find yourself in the torment and the constraints, ask for help and advice to find the best solution," Roberge said as he began to cry. "The principal witness in this case (the go-between) has admitted his contradictions. The false allegations have caused me, my partner (prosecutor Nancy Potvin) and my colleagues in the police irreparable damage."

Roberge's lawyer later explained that his client made a hasty decision when Roberge received the initial threat and, instead of telling his colleagues in the police, he was drawn deeper into Charlebois's trap.

Charlebois took his own life, on Sept. 25, in a chalet on Île Guèvremont in Sorel, eleven days after having escaped from the penitentiary. The SQ arrested the go-between five days later because they suspected he helped Charlebois hide while he was a fugitive. It was then that the go-between decided to help the police. He said Charlebois recorded the telephone conversations with the goal of blackmailing Roberge into helping him take control of drug trafficking in western Montreal even though he was behind bars. The man turned over ten recorded conversations to investigators.

The SQ then used the recordings to set up a sting operation that led to Roberge's arrest in October. An undercover agent was used to contact Roberge and inform him he was in possession of the recordings. He offered to sell Roberge the conversations for $50,000.

"To show him he was serious the agent played a part of one of the ten recordings," prosecutor Maxime Chevalier said Thursday. Roberge offered to pay $10,000.

The agent and Roberge agreed to meet at a parking lot of a Bureau en Gros on the South Shore. Roberge, who was by then under surveillance by members of the SQ, showed up for the meeting with the $10,000, paid for the recordings and was arrested.

"In those conversations we realize that Mr. Roberge gave or sold information on the identity of three police informants, used or being used in investigations," Chevalier said, adding in one recording Roberge supplied Charlebois with information related to Operation Loquace, an investigation of major drug traffickers. Roberge's partner, Potvin, was in charge of a specific part of Operation Loquace.

Chevalier said Frédéric Lavoie, 31, one of the principal targets in Operation Loquace, was among many people the SQ was unable to locate when they set out to make arrests in the investigation in 2012 because of information Roberge sold to Charlebois.

Chevalier estimated the damage caused by Roberge has cost taxpayers at least $400,000 and could run over $1 million when all is tabulated.

Chevalier also said the recordings showed Roberge gave Charlebois information on Boulanger's "psychological state" and, in one part of another recorded conversation, Charlebois remarked on how much Roberge was trusted by his colleagues.

"You there, you have your hand in the cookie jar of Madeleine and all that," Chevalier said while recounting Charlebois's words. It was an apparent reference to Madeleine Giauque, the lead prosecutor in Operation SharQc.

"What is particular in the tone of the conversations. The tone, you could say, was relatively cordial," Chevalier said. "At the end we get the impression that Charlebois controlled Roberge as a source."

This news item is from White Trash Networks
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