Hells Angel allegedly taped talks with ex-Montreal officer
Police allegedly obtained recordings between Hells Angel René Charlebois and retired officer
- Quebec's chief Crown removes Roberge's wife, an anti-gang prosecutor, from her duties
- Benoit Roberge to appear in court Thursday for a bail hearing
An incriminating conversation caught on tape helped lead to the arrest of a former sergeant-detective accused of selling information to the Hells Angels, CBC’s French service Radio-Canada has learned.
Quebec provincial police said an investigation into information leaks from inside the Montreal police force led them to Benoit Roberge, who retired from the Montreal police force in August and now works for Revenue Quebec.
Roberge was arrested on Saturday and faces two charges of gangsterism, one count of obstruction of justice and one count of breach of trust.
Roberge's wife removed from her duties
Quebec's chief Crown prosecutor, Martine Bérubé, has suspended Roberge's wife from her job as a prosecutor with the province's Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau.
"Considering the urgency and gravity of the situation, the director of criminal and penal prosecutions (DPCP) immediately put in place security measures," said Bérubé in a statement released Wednesday evening.
She is suspended temporarily and has lost her access to all files and to DPCP offices.
Bérubé said the unnamed prosecutor returned to Canada on Monday evening and met with Quebec provincial police investigators, offering them her complete co-operation.
She said the DPCP has no reason to believe the prosecutor was aware of any activities linked to her husband's alleged crimes.
Radio-Canada has learned Roberge’s arrest is intertwined with the case of a high-ranking Hells Angel member who was recently found dead after escaping from a Laval prison last month.
While in prison, Hells Angel RenéCharlebois allegedly recorded several incriminating conversations he held with Roberge.
According to Radio-Canada, Charlebois brought that recording with him when he escaped and handed it over to a third party, asking that the recording be made public if anything should happen to him.
Less than two weeks later, Charlebois was found dead by police inside a home several kilometres north of Sorel-Tracy, Que..
Radio-Canada reports that the third party, terrified to have the recording on hand, handed it over to police.
That same recording allowed an undercover officer to set up a sting operation and catch Roberge, according to Radio-Canada.
The undercover officer allegedly met with Roberge and told him he would hand over the recording for $50,000. Radio-Canada reports that Quebec police took Roberge into custody after he said he would be willing to pay $10,000 up front and $40,000 later.
Montreal police feel 'betrayed'
Montreal police Chief Marc Parent told media that Roberge's closest colleagues never suspected him of wrongdoing.
"Everyone feels betrayed, the only consolation is that he has been caught and that he will be judged," Parent said.
"But it's perhaps a small consolation compared to the damage he did to police organizations as well as the entire justice system."
Everyone feels betrayed, the only consolation is that he has been caught and that he will be judged.— Marc Parent, Montreal police chief
Parent said Montreal police have begun discussions with other police forces to enhance security around information sharing.
He said other officers who were in close contact with Roberge are also under investigation, and he can't rule out the possibility of more arrests within the Montreal police force or elsewhere.
For more than a decade, Roberge was part of a mixed regional squad charged with fighting organized crime in Quebec. That squad included members of the Montreal police force, the Quebec provincial police and the RCMP.
Parent called for a nationwide review of methods used to ensure the integrity of police officers, "to specifically identify some weaknesses that may affect police officers over time."
He called for the use of more polygraphs and credit checks, as well as random investigation of officers.
Former Montreal police chief Jacques Duchesneau, the anti-corruption investigator who became a provincial politician with the opposition Coalition Avenir Québec, agreed with Parent that regular checkups are necessary for investigators handling sensitive files.
"Polygraph tests should be mandatory," Duchesneau said. "A person knowing he has to go through a lie-detector test yearly — it would probably refrain him from doing something wrong."
Duchesneau said there have always been huge temptations for police officers to become corrupt.
"For certain people, money talks."
"I had to go through the same thing 30 years ago, when I arrested my own boss for drug trafficking. It's a major blow," he said.
Roberge is to appear in court in Montreal tomorrow for a bail hearing.