Major Witness To Testify Today as Montreal Mafia Probe Inches Onward

Court Proceeding to determine whether there'e enough evidence for a trial regarding drug trafficking in Montreal
Alexandra Mongeau, "Mom" Boucher's daughter, faces charges in Montreal mob case.

Project Mastiff, a lengthy drug trafficking investigation that ensnared Montreal Mafia boss Leonardo Rizzuto and around 40 others, who were arrested last November, is slated to inch forward in the courtroom today, with the scheduled debut of a key anonymous witness.

The witness sparked the investigation into alleged drug trafficking ties between the Montreal Cosa Nostra clan, the Hells Angels MC and various street gangs, the Montreal Gazette reported.

Rizzuto was identified by law enforcement as one of two bosses of the Montreal Mafia family previously run by his father, Vito, who died in December 2013. Leonardo was arrested on Nov. 19 as part of Projects Magot and Mastiff, a joint investigation into drug trafficking in the city. 

Rizzuto was charged with drug trafficking and gangsterism, which was introduced into Canada's Criminal Code in 1997 as a way to apply longer sentences against organized crime members. Specifically it was designed following the bloody street battles between the Hells Angels and The Rock Machine MCs for dominance over Quebec.

As for today's events, the man’s testimony is part of the preliminary inquiry into the investigation that netted Leonardo Rizzuto, 47, and his co-boss, Stefano Sollecito, 48, who also was arrested last November. The inquiry, basically, is to help the judge determine whether enough evidence exists for the case to reach the trial phase.

Also see Who Filled Rizzuto Power Vacuum?

One unusual twist in today's proceedings, noted the Gazette:

"...the witness cannot be named, for the time being, because of an unusual publication ban intended to protect his identity. Last month, out of concerns for his safety, the Crown requested that any information concerning the informant, including his name, be subject to a publication ban. Quebec Court Judge Louis Legault is expected to rule on the matter mid-month. On Wednesday, Quebec Court Judge Nathalie Fafard, who will preside over the preliminary inquiry, agreed to the Crown’s request that a temporary ban, issued by Legault, be maintained until he hands down his decision on Oct. 18."

Banning the publication of an informant’s name is rare, the report further noted, adding that, ironically, "all of the people charged in Project Mastiff already know the man’s name, which has been mentioned in open court several times in the past."

Leonardo Rizzuto

Rizzuto's and Sollecito's respective lawyers requested that their clients only be required to hear evidence from one witness slated to testify in November, because they have already heard the evidence during a lengthy bail hearing.

As noted, Sollecito was granted bail this past June; Leonardo Rizzuto wasn't.

The judge agreed that Sollecito, who suffers from cancer, "cannot adequately be treated... inside a provincial detention centre."

Quebec Court Judge Daniel Bédard had denied bail for both mobsters on March 4.

The court imposed a publishing ban on evidence presented at the hearing.

The evidence presented then and today will in part focus on how the Crown intends to prove Rizzuto and Sollecito were part of a criminal organization, the key part of the gangsterism charge they face. Charged related to conspiracy to traffic in cocaine make up the investigation's other prong.

At least five others nabbed as per Project Mastiff "renounced their right to hear the evidence that will be presented during the preliminary inquiry," the Gazette noted.

Alexandra Mongeau, (daughter of Maurice (Mom) Boucher, the former leader of a Hells Angels’ chapter based in Montreal) is among the accused in Project Mastiff; she requested that she only be required to sit through the hearing when it focuses on the evidence related to her specific charge in the larger case. Her lawyer, Anne-Sophie Bédard, said that only a small part of the evidence involves Mongeau, who recently gave birth. 

Mongeau is charged with possessing illegal proceeds.

"Mom" Boucher plotted the murder of Raynald Desjardins.

Who's This Big Witness?

We've written of one turncoat here, noting his name: Patrick "Bart" Corbeil.

Since he was arrested in November, it doesn't seem he is the man described as testifying today.

But as someone once said (or should have): One never knows, does one?

The turncoat headed up a narcotics trafficking network until his arrest last November, when 200 police officers hauled away 48 as part of Projects Magot and Mastiff.

One major revelation of this investigation was that the Cosa Nostra, the Hells' Angels and major street gangs allegedly worked together to control drug trafficking in Montreal. The groups shared the profits of their drug trafficking operation.

Corbeil, 43, reputedly headed up "a very active network in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, a district of Montreal." It only took hours following his arrest last November for him to flip; he now works for the police, sources confirmed.

Also read: Recent Montreal Arrests

During the Mastiff investigation, several months prior to the arrests, an undercover agent slipped into Corbeil's organization and grew close to him. Corbeil was not a Mafia member, but he was well organized, formally paying his "employees" monthly envelopes and decreeing that all members purchase a Blackberry to communicate with one another.

The agent, not named in reports, carried money for the crew and played a role in the group's payroll. His position "would have allowed police to amass overwhelming evidence."