column was published in the North
Shore News on
May 1, 2002)
business the Hells Angels way
A little over a year ago, mild-mannered insurance salesman, 41-year-old Richard Gemme, was arrested in a Lower Lonsdale apartment on the same day police in La Belle Province were taking down the illicit operations of the Quebec Nomads chapter of the Hells Angels.
In late March, after a year in custody, Gemme pleaded guilty to participating in gang activity, drug trafficking and conspiracy to traffick.
He got sentenced to five years in federal prison.
Gemme was defended by lawyer Gilbert Frignon. In a spirited but dubious defence, Frignon tried to make much of the fact that Gemme was a career insurance salesman who merely responded to requests from boyhood friends to design the software program to track the Hells Angels' millions in drug profits.
Police showed evidence of more than $40 million recorded in Gemme's program in just a few months.
Gemme's insurance boss, Gerard Gosselin, called it a case of "Jekyll and Hyde."
Frignon tried to make much of the fact that Gemme wasn't really a biker.
The sad reality is that the Hells Angels will use anyone they can for their illicit purpose.
And they will threaten anyone who stands in their way.
Gemme's fate was sealed, either by a prison cell or a coffin, the day he agreed to help out his Angel friends.
The trial of Quebec Nomads chapter boss, Maurice "Mom" Boucher, which was sent to the jury for deliberations on Thursday, brought all of this to mind for me.
Not specifically because of what the jury heard, but more for what it didn't hear in the trial in which Boucher stands accused of ordering the executions of two corrections officers.
You see, there is no room for anyone who might prove to be a liability someday.
The Hells Angels in Quebec declared war, not just on rival bikers - then known as the Rock Machine and now part of the Texas-based Bandidos. No, they declared war on our society.
In June 1995, for example, while Boucher was cooling his heels on some firearms charges in Sorel prison, he did everything he could to get day passes. Warden Nicole Quesnel blocked his requests.
The Crown prosecutor did all possible to get admitted evidence that Boucher ordered Quesnel's South Shore home torched.
(The house was burned in a suspicious fire on June 9, 1995.)
The evidence was deemed not admissible. As was evidence of obstruction of justice committed by Boucher following his first trial on the murder charges.
A 16-year-old girl named Nancy Dube, testified during that trial. She had seen Stephane Gagne walk by her bus shelter, leaving a burning van used in the murder of one of the two prison guards. (In this most recent trial, Gagne testified against Boucher, admitting the murder, but saying Boucher ordered the hit.)
At some time between his acquittal in 1998 and his arrest in late 2000, Dube saw Boucher.
She had been working at a furniture store when in came "Mom" who marched right up to her.
He walked around her slowly, in a full circle without saying a word, all the while holding her eyes in a locked stare.
Oddly enough, she declined the Crown's invitation to testify at the second trial. Imagine that.
Neither was evidence admitted of bombs planted outside five Montreal police stations in April 1999.
Evidence was introduced, in the absence of the jury, that Stephane Faucher, the leader of an Angel puppet gang, planted the bombs. (The Hells Angels use puppet gangs to do their dirty work.)
Apparently, according to Justice Pierre Beliveau, the evidence was prejudicial to the accused, Boucher.
As I write this, I don't know how the jury will decide this case.
I do know that Richard Gemme could not escape his deal with the devil when he was arrested in North Vancouver.
I also know that when members of the Organized Crime Agency of B.C. arrested Gemme, he was up to his eyeballs in the drug trade portion of Hells Angels business.
Whatever he may have thought, as he agreed to set up the accounting network for their trafficking business, he forever turned his back on his normal life as an insurance salesman.
Whatever the lure of doing business with the outlaw bikers was, it changed his life and there was never any possibility of going back.
As it turned out, he may have gotten off lightly. Assuming, that is, he lives through his prison term.
The drug business of organized crime takes out a different kind of insurance policy.