Ex-cop gets 8 years for tipping off criminal bikers
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, April 4, 2014 10:04AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, April 4, 2014 11:10AM EDT
MONTREAL -- An ex-Montreal police officer was given an eight-year prison term Friday for selling sensitive intelligence to criminal bikers in what a judge described as a betrayal of the justice system.
Quebec court Judge Robert Marchi agreed with a joint Crown-defence recommendation that Benoit Roberge be sentenced to four years each for breach of trust and gangsterism, with the two to be served consecutively.
Marchi said he considered the maximum sentence of 10 years but deemed the recommendation reasonable.
But the judge had harsh for Roberge.
"The accused, with his actions, ruined his own life, but worse, and more sadly, that of his family," Marchi said. "He betrayed his family, he betrayed his friends, he betrayed the trust of his colleagues.
"He betrayed the justice system."
With time already spent in detention, Roberge, 50, has seven years and three months left.
He must serve half of his sentence before being eligible for parole.
The Crown said Roberge sold information to the Hells Angels, ultimately pocketing about $125,000 between October 2012 and March 2013. The money has mostly been returned to authorities.
A tearful Roberge explained during his guilty plea last month that he'd been threatened into co-operating with the gang and had made a mistake by not reporting it to his superiors. He explained the threat came in a single phone call and that he had mere moments to make a decision.
But Marchi said in his ruling that he didn't put a lot of stock in Roberge's explanation, given he continued selling information over several months.
The biker with whom Roberge was associating, Rene Charlebois, committed suicide last year after escaping from a minimum-security jail.
Roberge is a former organized crime investigator who frequently testified as an expert on the Hells at their criminal trials.
The case centred around recordings of conversations between Charlebois and Roberge that surfaced after the biker's suicide last Sept. 26. He'd been on the lam for 12 days from a minimum-security prison and took his own life as police moved in to capture him.
A third party, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, made police aware of the tapes and gave them certain information about the nine recordings.
Roberge was arrested in an elaborate sting operation as he tried to retrieve the recordings.
Roberge officially retired from the Montreal police last August after a 28-year career. He worked for the province's tax agency but was fired after his arrest.