Nfld. & Labrador

'I'll make you proud,' Al Potter tells Vikings member after meeting with undercover cop

The court fell quiet as the intercepted phone call cut in — "You've got a collect call from ... Allan."

Potter thought he was getting a job as a debt collector. He was wrong

A letter written to Al Potter, 55, while he was in jail in Lindsay, Ont. Multiple letters were sent back and forth to a man who was a Vikings Motorcycle Club member but later became a civilian agent for the RCMP. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

The court fell quiet as the intercepted phone call cut in — "You've got a collect call from ... Allan."

The sixth and final wiretapped call played for the jury Friday at Al Potter's first-degree murder trial shed light on what was happening in Potter's life leading up to his arrest in September 2016. 

It was Sept. 15, 2016, and he was in jail in Lindsay, Ont. Things were looking up. Or so he thought. 

Only took him 15 seconds of sizing me up to think I would probably be good.- Al Potter

"I'm gonna tell you something right now, sir, I'm gonna do a good f--king job now, too," Potter said to the man on the line. 

"So imagine how that's going to make you look? When I shines like a f--king shining star and you're the one who got him to hire me!"

The man on the phone was a fellow Vikings Motorcycle Club member. A 64-year-old man who, unbeknownst to Potter, became a police agent, and was paid to provide information on Dale Porter's 2014 homicide and about members of the Vikings.

"We're going places, aren't we buddy?" said Potter, who is now ending week two of his first-degree murder trial. 

Al Potter places his pointer and middle finger in a V on the left side of his chest, as he's done during previous court appearances at Supreme Court in St. John's. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

As the calls were played in Supreme Court Friday morning, the agent looked comfortable. As comfortable as one could be, when facing a man who was once a close friend and "brother."

Swiveling side-to-side in a desk chair and rocking his glasses back and forth using his thumb and index finger, he listened closely to one of his "tasks" as dictated by the RCMP. 

"That blows my f--king mind," the police agent told Potter. "You know something? That really blows me mind!"

Police agent plays the part

Potter called his friend shortly after an unexpected visit from an undercover RCMP officer who was pretending to be the owner of a debt collecting business.

The fictitious business owner said he was interested in hiring Potter as a debt collector, and asked him to help do some "heavy lifting" for a "small, little job, a couple hours."

"Only took him 15 seconds of sizing me up to think I would probably be good," Potter said enthusiastically. "Either that or seeing if I'll be a good worker."

"I know him and he's got a really good judge of character," the police agent lied. 

V.F.F.V. stands for Vikings Forever, Forever Vikings, the court was told by a police agent on Thursday. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

The police agent played the part — shock, happiness, enthusiasm. 


"There's nothin' that can top that, I can't think of anything, if I won the lottery it wouldn't be the same," the agent said. "Unreal, it's unf--king real."

Potter promises to work hard, not drink, and prove himself.

"I'll make you happy, [agent], I'll make you proud. You'll get some credit for this, you'll see."

Tax-free cash ... and social assistance

And while the man didn't win the lottery, he certainly got paid. 

The RCMP offered him $300,000 to provide information on Porter's stabbing death in North River and on members of the Vikings Motorcycle Club and the Leonard family, many of whom were members. 

In addition to that, the man told the court he received an unexpected $15,000 after the arrests, and was given $800 a week in "maintenance payments" for about two years. Police gave him cash for club meetings, bought him a motorcycle, paid his club dues and outstanding traffic fines.

"So they take income tax out of that?" defence lawyer Randy Piercey asked.

The police agent, 64, sits at this table at the front of the court and to the left of Justice Garrett Handrigan during his two-day testimony. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

"Nothing," the agent said. 

"You don't pay no tax, nothing gets taken out."

And all the while, the court heard, he was collecting social assistance.

"Nobody told me to stop taking government cheques," he said. 

During cross-examination, Piercey pointed out that in the numerous letters, phone calls and wiretap conversations, there's no mention of Porter's murder.

Piercey also said it was never explicitly said to Potter that the fake job entailed violence. But the agent insists, "he knew."

He also asked why the agent, who himself has a lengthy criminal record, told the jury Potter was signing on to be a hitman, when he never used that word during previous court hearings. 

"You have a jury now making a decision on this man's life, why didn't you say this in any previous hearings?" Piercey pressed.

"I got nothing to do with the jury, I'm here to give evidence and tell the truth," the agent replied. 

Vikings' a Mickey Mouse Club, agent says

A call between Potter and the police agent days earlier, on Sept. 11, 2016, revealed clear disagreement within the Vikings Motorcycle Club, which was operating in several locations but mainly on Cabot Street in downtown St. John's. 

"I said, 'B'ys the club owes [unintelligible] a lot of money and there's money owed for shirts,'" the police agent said to Potter about a recent club meeting.

"And I looks right at him and said, 'You owe a very large amount of money for shirts.'"

Security was heightened for several days at Al Potter's first-degree murder trial as two police agents who turned on Potter and the Vikings Motorcycle Club, took the stand. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

There were no hard rules, no chain of command, and lots of disorganization, he said. 

"If one person didn't come at 7:30, there was no meeting," he said. "If someone was drunk, there was no meeting."

Lamenting the disorganization to Potter, the agent said, "They goes to a meeting and they say, '$30? I'll pay next week.'"

"I said, 'F--k, the welfare cheques are out. You can have a case of beer but you can't pay your [club] dues?"

During a previous court hearing, the police agent referred to the Vikings as a "Mickey Mouse Club."

However, he told the court Friday that the Vikings were planning a meeting with the Hells Angels prior to Potter's arrest. 

2 jurors to be dismissed

Meanwhile, Justice Garrett Handrigan, who is overseeing the trial, told jurors Friday that two of them will eventually be let go.

He explained that 14 people were chosen for the jury, in case some members had to be dismissed.

Only 12, however, can deliberate. 

"It's difficult bringing you all the way through this, commanding your attention ... and then not have the option to be involved in the jury deliberations," Handrigan said.

The selection process will be done at random, he said.

The trial continues on Monday and will likely soon hear from the undercover police officers who met with Potter in prison and purportedly got a confession. 

About the Author

Ariana Kelland

Reporter

Ariana Kelland is a reporter with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John's.