Benoît Roberge pleads guilty in Hells Angels leak case
Ex-Montreal cop said he received $125K for selling police information to biker gang
Former Montreal police investigator Benoît Roberge has pleaded guilty to one charge of gangsterism and one charge of breach of trust for selling information to the Hells Angels biker gang.
Another charge of gangsterism and a charge of obstruction of justice were dropped.
The former sergeant-detective, who was assigned specifically to investigate organized crime and who had been facing accusations of selling sensitive police information to the Hells Angels, was arrested in October.
At the Montreal courthouse today, Roberge apologized in tears.
"It's his only occasion to express the degree of regret that he had for doing what he did," said defence lawyer Richard Perras.
His defence lawyer said he leaked information to the Hells Angels because he and his family were threatened with violence and blackmail during a phone call with René Charlebois.
"He had to make a quick decision on whether he was giving in to the threat or not. He took the wrong path, and from then on it was simply a matter of things continuing," Perras said of his client.
Roberge heard on tapes
Before his death, Charlebois left behind 10 audio tapes and an almost-two-hour video.
The 10 audio recordings contain phone conversations between Charlebois and Roberge.
Some reveal how Charlebois and another top-ranking member of the Hells Angels, Salvatore Cazzetta, arranged to pay Roberge.
In one instance, Charlebois explains to Roberge how he will pay him $100,000.
“We’ll do it like we did the last time: leave your car on the side, and leave the doors unlocked. We’ll put the money on your backseat. You’ll pick it up later,” Charlebois said on the tape.
Spirit of co-operation
Roberge's defence told the court that he received a total of $125,000 in exchange for the information. Montreal police have recovered around $115,000.
Roberge, 50, waived his right to a preliminary hearing in late February. He also gave up the option of being tried by a jury, instead choosing to present his case in front of a single judge.
His lawyer said he waived those rights in the spirit of co-operation.
"First of all, he didn't do any of the proceedings," Perras said. "He waived the bail hearing, waived the preliminary hearing and recently gave a complete statement to the police. The money that he had received, or nearly 95 per cent of it, was recovered and he pleaded guilty this morning. I call that complete co-operation."
Crown and defence attorneys are recommending a sentence of eight years less time served. A judge will hand down the sentence on April 4.
Because he is a high-profile prisoner and could be in jail alongside people he helped put there, Roberge spent his first month in jail in a robe in the infirmary.
Perras said he is isolated in a special section of the jail in order to protect him.
"It's a very hard time," the lawyer said.
More on the Roberge saga
Feb. 19, 2014: Benoît Roberge to go straight to trial in Hells leak case
Jan. 23, 2014: Benoît Roberge's preliminary hearing set in Hells leak case
Jan. 22, 2014: Alleged police leak to Hells Angels may include 2nd officer