Wednesday, March 24, 2010
59 year old veteran Hells Angels biker, sentenced to 15 years
Ensnared by buddy, biker gets 15 years in jail
It will be a long time before Hells Angels prospect Al LeBras gets his wings, if ever.
The 59-year-old longtime outlaw biker — one of 18 people arrested following a 2007 police investigation targeting the Hells Angels and associates — was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in prison.
LeBras pleaded guilty to three counts of drug trafficking, money laundering and instructing the commission of an offence for a criminal organization.
LeBras’ sentence was jointly recommended by the Crown and defence.
Justice Brenda Keyser said the only factor in LeBras’ favour was his guilty plea.
“He has shown non-existent remorse and rehabilitation is not even remotely a factor,” Keyser said. “He could easily be facing a longer period of custody were it not for the joint submission.”
Project Drill began in November 2006 and was handled by the Manitoba Integrated Organized Crime Task Force. It focused on drug trafficking in Manitoba, B.C., Alberta and Ontario. Police agent and career criminal Scotty Robertson was paid more than $500,000 to ensnare LeBras, a longtime friend, and other targets, including then-Manitoba Hells Angels president Dale Donovan.
Court heard that LeBras, on two different occasions, sold Robertson a kilogram of cocaine and half a kilogram of cocaine. A third drug deal was in the works before police pulled the plug on the investigation and arrested the suspects, said Crown attorney Chris Mainella. Mainella said LeBras encouraged Robertson to try joining the Hells Angels and offered to assist his efforts.
Court heard LeBras laundered tens of thousands of dollars through the Merchants Hotel, exchanging small denomination bills for $50 and $100 bills.
Mainella said the owners of the hotel told police they used the laundered money to stock their ATM machines.
“This is classic money laundering,” he said.
LeBras has been associated with outlaw biker gangs his entire adult life. He has admitted to selling drugs since at least 1975 and has been in and out of jail for decades.
Lebras’ sentence includes a $46,000 fine, satisfied by the seizure of two Harley Davidson motorcycles.
Arrested after year-long police investigation
He is one of Winnipeg's original bikers, a veteran of the organized crime scene whose main goal was to become a full-patch member of the Hells Angels.
So when a team of heavily armed police officers surrounded his home in December 2007 -- effectively ending his chances to finally reach the promised land -- Al Lebras decided to literally go out flying the colours.
The 59-year-old longtime biker prospect told police he needed a few minutes to get dressed, then emerged from the home wearing his Hells Angels support shirt and vest which proudly displayed his loyalty.
"There's an old saying about a captain going down with the ship," Crown attorney Chris Mainella told a Winnipeg court on Tuesday. "It's actually kind of admirable. It's also clear evidence of his mindset. He is a member of this organization and he will go down with this organization."
Lebras, who led the now-defunct Los Brovos gang in the 1970s and maintained close ties with the biker scene ever since, has now officially reached rock bottom.
He received a 15-year prison term Tuesday after pleading guilty to several charges including participating in a criminal organization, conspiracy to traffic cocaine and money laundering. He must also forfeit his beloved 2003 and vintage 1938 Harley Davidson motorcycles, plus $140,000 cash seized by police.
Defence lawyer Danny Gunn said his client will be an old man when, or if, he ever tastes freedom again.
"When I think of a retirement party, this is indeed a sad one," Gunn said. "Mr. Lebras has little to look forward to. This is as far as Mr. Lebras has ever fallen."
Lebras was one of 18 Hells Angels members and associates arrested three years ago following a year-long undercover police investigation dubbed "Project Drill" that involved having a career criminal become a "secret agent." Scotty "Taz" Robertson was able to infiltrate the gang and conduct a series of drug and weapons deals that were caught on video and audio surveillance by police. He was paid $650,000, plus expenses, for his efforts.
During the investigation, police seized five machine guns, three handguns, 11 kilograms of cocaine, 2,000 tablets of methamphetamine and 13 pounds of marijuana. They also uncovered a murder plot before anyone was hurt, but another gang target was shot dead in Thompson before the case ended.
Two of those deals were with Lebras, who began climbing the criminal ladder again in 2004 following his most recent release from prison. Lebras, whose record spans 40 years and includes several lengthy prison terms, was looking to curry favour with the Hells Angels and obtain full-member status. He had a connection in British Columbia who could ship pure cocaine by the kilogram.
Lebras was caught by police arranging a drug deal in September 2007. He met with the agent at a downtown Thai restaurant to discuss the delivery, then turned over the drugs the next day at a car wash in River Heights, court was told. Lebras then met the agent at his home in late September to be paid $31,000 cash -- which was actually marked money provided to Robertson by his police handlers. The deal was recorded in a video camera hidden inside the agent's car.
Lebras arranged for a half-kilogram shipment in October 2007, and was caught on a phone wiretap discussing how he was laundering his drug profits through the Merchant's Hotel in Winnipeg's North End. Lebras said he was converting large quantities of $20 bills into $50 and $100 bills without having to go through a bank, which would potentially attract attention to his criminal ways.
"Notorious is as notorious was as notorious as he ever shall be," Mainella said Tuesday in discussing Lebras' latest -- and most dramatic -- brush with the law. "The message here is your biological clock is not going to prevent you from a lengthy sting in prison."
Lebras has served 27 months of pre-trial custody, which was only given single-time credit instead of the usual two-for-one because of his extensive criminal background. That means he has another 12 years and three months left to serve.
Crown and defence lawyers also agreed that he must do half of his time before being parole eligible, instead of the normal one-third.
"Pretty clear there is non-existent remorse here, and rehabilitation is not a factor. He should be warehoused for a significant period of time," said Queen's Bench Justice Brenda Keyser.
"It's my hope he finds the strength to survive the next many years," his lawyer told court.
I agree with this sentence. It is extremely difficult for organized criminals to be detected, let alone convicted and they are very dangerous. There are millions of potential victims, through laundering and stealing money. This man has been in and out of prison for most of his life, and has still continued in the same lifestyle. It is entrenched in him. Of course there is that possibility that prison will make him even more entrenched in this lifestyle as it tends to "create better criminals." He had been very loyal to the Hells Angels and his criminal background was distributed over a 40 year history.
He is eligible for parole in 6 years, 2 months (which is half his sentence of 12 years and 3 months)