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Saturday, 24 March 2012

Hells Angels informant compromised witness-protection identity


Drug dealer who turned his back on the Hells Angels when he decided to become a prosecution witness was recently returned to a penitentiary after taking a risk that jeopardized his life, The Gazette has learned. Serge Boutin, 45, a former member of a Hells Angels puppet gang called the Rockers, was given a new identity after testifying in two of the most high-profile trials in the past decade involving the biker gang’s members. As part of his deal to testify against people like Maurice (Mom) Boucher – the most powerful biker gang member in Quebec until he was convicted of murder in 2002 – Boutin reduced a first-degree murder case he was facing into a guilty plea to manslaughter. Boutin helped get Boucher convicted of murder and was a key witness in the only so-called megatrial to go all the way to a jury verdict in Operation Springtime 2001, an investigation that dismantled Boucher’s vast and violent drug trafficking network. Under his original deal, the public should have never heard from Boutin again because his identity was changed and was placed in the witness-protection program. He was granted full parole in 2007 and, according to a just-released summary of a decision made by the Parole Board of Canada, voluntarily decided to withdraw from the witness-protection program in 2010 because “you felt the framework you were subjugated to restricted your rights.” Despite being out on full parole, Boutin received a life sentence in his case and is still required to report to a parole officer. According to the summary, in recent months Boutin appeared to resent having to follow a series of conditions set by a parole officer who had consulted Boutin’s former handler in the witness-protection program. Boutin was unwilling to share information about a woman he started a relationship with and had ventured outside territorial limits he had agreed to with his parole officer. But it was something else that Boutin did, late last year, that alarmed Correctional Service Canada and produced his arrest, on Dec. 6, 2011, for having violated his parole. The thing Boutin did is redacted from a copy of the summary obtained by The Gazette. However, the summary mentions that Boutin later explained there were “no bad intentions” behind his actions. “After discussing it with your parole officer and your former controllers you have come to recognize your error in judgment although you feel the (parole) suspension was a drastic measure,” the author of the summary wrote. Boutin had a parole hearing this month held under unusual conditions. His parole officer had to appear via a video link-up to the hearing room. The parole board was advised that having spent the past three months behind bars again apparently changed Boutin’s attitude toward living as a free man while having to abide by a series of conditions. He agreed to be more transparent with his parole officer and to put more consideration into his personal safety. His case-management team also recommended that Boutin be relocated for his own safety. The two parole board members who presided over the hearing agreed to release Boutin with a warning that he be more transparent in the future. In February 2000, Boutin helped lure Claude De Serres, a man who was working undercover for the police, to a chalet in the Laurentians where he was murdered by the Hells Angels. The biker gang had discovered De Serres’s secret after stealing a laptop computer from the hotel room of a member of the Ontario Provincial Police who was in Sherbrooke to monitor a Hells Angels anniversary party. De Serres wasn’t named in the information the Hells Angels found on the computer, but they somehow realized De Serres, who grew marijuana for Boutin, was also a police snitch. Boutin was initially charged with first-degree murder in De Serres’s death but reduced the charge to manslaughter when he became a prosecution witness. He later testified that he decided to become a witness because his former boss in the Hells Angels, Normand Robitaille, apparently assumed he was one.

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