For­mer killer-for-hire granted pa­role af­ter 17 years

Montreal Gazette - - Montreal - PAUL CHERRY GAZETTE CRIME RE­PORTER pcherry@mon­tre­al­gazette.com

A for­mer killer-for-hire, who turned in­for­mant to save his own life, will need spe­cial per­mis­sion to call his mother when he soon gets full pa­role.

Harold Pel­letier, 54, was re­cently granted pa­role for the first time on the life sen­tence he re­ceived in 1996 af­ter plead­ing guilty to killing a man — one of 17 un­der­world slay­ings he took part in mostly as a mem­ber of the no­to­ri­ous Pel­letier Clan, a gang run by his broth­ers.

In Oc­to­ber 1994, Pel­letier’s younger brother Syl­vain, 33, was killed in Re­pentigny by a bomb rigged in­side his Jeep Chero­kee. That event is con­sid­ered by many to have been the start of what came to be known as Que­bec’s biker gang war, which ended in 2002.

Syl­vain Pel­letier, leader of the Pel­letier Clan, was op­posed to the Hells An­gels’ ag­gres­sive ex­pan­sion into drug-traf­fick­ing turf in eastern Montreal, and had sided with the like-minded Rock Ma­chine gang.

The bomb­ing also set off a chain of events that led Harold Pel­letier to where he is now — serv­ing a life sen­tence for sec­ond-de­gree mur­der.

One month af­ter his brother was killed, Harold Pel­letier took part in a plot to kill Hells An­gels leader Mau­rice (Mom) Boucher in ap­par­ent re­tal­i­a­tion. The plan in­volved plac­ing dy­na­mite in a truck parked near a restau­rant Boucher was known to fre­quent. Boucher never showed up and the il­le­gally parked truck was even­tu­ally towed away.

De­tails of the plot were leaked to Boucher who, ac­cord­ing to an in­for­mant, be­gan com­pil­ing a hit list that in­cluded Harold Pel­letier. Af­ter other peo­ple in­volved in the plot be­gan fall­ing like domi­noes, Pel­letier, re­al­iz­ing his days were likely num­bered, turned to the po­lice for help. He ad­mit­ted to play­ing a role in 17 mur­ders and gave in­ves­ti­ga­tors in­for­ma­tion on other crimes, in­clud­ing some that in­volved his own broth­ers.

Be­fore Syl­vain was killed, the Pel­letier Clan con­trolled drug traf­fick­ing in parts of Montreal in­clud­ing Hochelaga-Maison­neuve and Tétreaultville.

Harold Pel­letier ad­mit­ted to the pa­role board that he had a rep­u­ta­tion as a re­li­able hit man and earned $20,000 a week when the gang was at its peak.

By Nov. 17, 1995, Pel­letier came to an agree­ment with the Sûreté du Québec and made his first ap­pear­ance at the Montreal court­house as a pro­tected wit­ness.

De­spite ad­mit­ting to tak­ing part in 17 killings, Pel­letier only faced one mur­der charge. He was charged with first-de­gree mur­der in the 1983 death of Michel Beaulieu, who owed one of the Pel­letier broth­ers money. As part of his deal, he was able to plead guilty to a re­duced charge of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der, with a chance at full pa­role af­ter serv­ing 10 years be­hind bars.

Pel­letier be­came a prob­lem for au­thor­i­ties dur­ing the first few years of his sen­tence.

He was turned down for day pa­role in 2002 af­ter be­com­ing a sus­pect in a plot to kill another in­mate, and af­ter test­ing pos­i­tive for co­caine use a month be­fore his hear­ing be­fore the pa­role board.

Dur­ing his more re­cent hear­ing on Nov. 20, how­ever, the pa­role board was ad­vised that much has changed for Pel­letier in the last decade.

Ac­cord­ing to a writ­ten sum­mary of the pa­role board’s de­ci­sion, Pel­letier is now a long­time mem­ber of Al­co­holics Anony­mous, has com­pleted high school and “over the course of re­cent years your stub­born at­ti­tude with au­thor­ity has worn off and you have pro­gres­sively es­tab­lished a bond of trust with (pen­i­ten­tiary staff).”

He was granted full pa­role with a series of con­di­tions at­tached, in­clud­ing that he not as­so­ci­ate with crim­i­nals. The sum­mary also de­scribes how Cor­rec­tional Ser­vice of Canada (CSC) and the SQ plan to deal with the fact Pel­letier may still be a po­ten­tial tar­get for or­ga­nized crime fig­ures seek­ing re­venge against the in­for­mant.

As part of the con­di­tions of his re­lease, Pel­letier is re­quired to live at an undis­closed lo­ca­tion “in col­lab­o­ra­tion with CSC.”

“An eval­u­a­tion of the threat and the risk will be con­ducted with CSC and the Sûreté du Québec. An alarm sys­tem will be in­stalled and CSC will be ad­vised, through a cell­phone, of the hours it is in use. This form of sur­veil­lance al­lows for a cur­few be­tween 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., as well as as­sur­ing your pres­ence at your home.”

Pel­letier’s mother won’t be told where her son is re­sid­ing and any calls be­tween Pel­letier and his mother will be su­per­vised by his SQ con­troller. And if he wants to see her in per­son the time and lo­ca­tion of the meet­ing has to be ar­ranged by CSC and the po­lice con­troller.

GAZETTE FILES

Harold Pel­letier par­tic­i­pat­ing in 17 slay­ings while a mem­ber of his broth­ers’ gang.

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