Wiretaps show two sides of accused extortionist

Wiretap evidence from a recent extortion trial in Edmonton provides a fascinating glimpse of the man the Crown says modelled himself after fictional television mobster Tony Soprano.
Jonathan David Meer, in a court sketch. ((CBC))
Wiretap evidence from a recent extortion trial in Edmonton provides a fascinating glimpse of the man the Crown says modelled himself after fictional television mobster Tony Soprano.

Jonathan David [Dave] Meer, 48, faces 13 criminal charges, including extortion and conspiracy to commit arson.

He is accused of masterminding a wave of violence against former business associates in 2007 and having his son and his son's friends act as "foot soldiers" to carry out the acts.

The judge will announce his decision in the case on Dec. 3. CBC News was able to obtain the wiretap material entered as evidence at the trial, which wrapped on Wednesday.

Police conducted surveillance on Dave Meer for months and gathered more than 29,000 phone calls, conversations and text messages. Just under 200 of them were entered as evidence in the trial.

The evidence released to CBC includes phone calls Meer made to his wife, his son, and daughter between January and May 2008. He is also heard discussing business with associates in Medicine Hat, Alta., and San Antonio, Texas.

Meer denies involvement in directing crimes

The profanity-filled conversations portray Meer as both a family man who loves his daughter's dog, Pookie, as well as a man who sounds like he's used to calling the shots.

Edmonton Police are still looking for Christopher David Meer, 26. The Edmonton Police Commission has offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. ((Edmonton Police Service))
The Crown's theory is that Dave Meer modelled himself after Tony Soprano and behaved like a crime boss who directed his family to handle his dirty business.

In a phone call from Feb. 2008, Meer gives clear instructions to his son.

"Chris, you're not doing anything that I don't tell you to do. All right? Bye," he says.

Meer testified at his own trial that he had nothing to do with directing the crimes. Instead, he told the court Chris Meer and his friend Dustin Pisesky were responsible for setting fires to homes and shooting out windows.

Dave and Chris Meer were worried that Pisesky was going to tell police about them.

"The biggest thing is communication. You got a horse with a broken leg, the best way to put it, you're not going to waste a lot of time with that horse," Meer says. "We know what we do with horses with broken legs?"

"Glue factory!" Chris Meer chimes in.

"Yeah," Meer replies. "Make glue out of them."

Under cross-examination by the Crown at the trial, Meer admitted he was referring to Pisesky as the horse with a broken leg, but dismissed the glue factory comment as "a figure of speech."

"My intention was to distance myself from him," he testified.

Pisesky pleaded guilty to arson and extortion and has already served his sentence. He testified for the Crown at the trial.

Chris Meer fled Canada the day before his father was arrested in March 2008. In one phone call, father and son chose their words carefully just in case they were being taped.

"How was the roads?" Dave Meer asks.

"Montana is the worst state in the entire [United] States, I think," his son replies. "It was nothing but sleet, rain, slush, snow. But past that it was fine."

"OK, but don't mention places. I have an indication, you know. So anyways, I just need to keep in touch so I know everything is ok," Meer replies.

Dave Meer testified he transferred $800 to his son's credit card but insists he and his wife are not financially supporting him nor do they have any idea where their son is.

Finally the Soprano family, Meer says

On March 21, 2008, Meer calls his daughter, asking her if she had seen the news of his arrest in the newspaper and on TV.

Loreena Meer is shown in a tunnel outside the Edmonton courthouse Oct 18. ((CBC))
"We're f--king popular now," he tells her, adding moments later: "We're finally, I guess, the Soprano family."

Meer is in the remand centre by April 30, 2008, and his son, Chris, has fled Canada. One tape chronicles a telephone conversation with his wife Loreena.

"They're gunnin' for Chris and Chris isn't going to show up," Dave Meer says, adding he will go "ballistic" if his son is found.

"But it's better me than him as far as I'm concerned. They're gonna have a tough time at trial trying to connect the dots when not everybody's here," he said.

If he is convicted on all 13 counts, Meer faces a possible life sentence. Meer originally faced 15 charges, but two of them were stayed by the Crown.

With files from the CBC's Janice Johnston