Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

City biker charged in 30-year-old killing

Co-accused pleads guilty to prison stabbing

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ONE of Manitoba's most notorious bikers has been linked to a 30-year-old slaying at an Ontario prison while his co-accused pleaded guilty to the crime during his first court appearance Thursday.

Winnipeg police arrested Jeffrey David Peck, 50, as part of an extensive probe into a June 1982 attack inside Collin's Bay Institution in Kingston. A second man, 50-year-old Robert Simpson, who was in custody in Montreal, was arrested on the same charge and pleaded guilty Thursday, the Ottawa Citizen reported.

Peck -- a member of the Manitoba Hells Angels since 2002 -- and Simpson were both charged with first-degree murder, indicating the crime was planned.

Robert Frank Conroy, 19, who was attacked inside his cell block, was pronounced dead of massive trauma. At the time of the killing, the cell doors were open, meaning 400 inmates were free to move around.

Conroy's killing would remain unsolved until this week. In a news release Thursday, Ontario Provincial Police said a squad made up of investigators from the OPP, RCMP and the Kingston Police Service gathered enough evidence to finally lay charges. They were assisted by police in Winnipeg and Montreal.

Justice sources told the Free Press there were rumours for years that Peck may have been involved in the killing, but there was insufficient evidence to lay charges. Potential witnesses were reluctant to co-operate with investigators. Peck, who was 19 at the time, was in custody along with Conroy, after the two were involved in a drug-related attack in Kingston.

There are concerns within organized crime that a source, or sources, are working with police and may be spilling the beans on other unsolved crimes.

"There will be a lot of people wondering what else might be coming," a longtime gang affiliate told the Free Press Thursday on the condition of anonymity.

Simpson appeared in court Thursday, entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years, said OPP Sgt. Kristine Rae.

Peck was flown from Winnipeg to Ontario on Thursday, in the custody of city police and OPP officers. He's expected to appear in court today.

Peck has made headlines throughout the years for various dealings with law enforcement. He last appeared in court in 2007 when he pleaded guilty to selling a kilogram of cocaine to an undercover agent as part of a police sting operation. He was sentenced to 71/2 years in prison.

"It was a classic double-cross," Crown attorney Chris Mainella told court at the time, indicating Peck's good friend, Franco Atanasovic, was the secret agent.

Atanasovic was paid US$525,000 plus expenses for tasks that included doing 18 separate drug deals, which led to the arrests of Peck and 12 other gang members and associates.

The one involving Peck went down in the parking lot of a Portage Avenue car wash in May 2005. Following earlier discussions outside a Winnipeg hockey arena and hardware store, Peck agreed to meet Atanasovic and swap a kilogram of cocaine for $35,000.

Peck is a former president of the now-defunct Los Brovos gang, which eventually morphed into the Hells Angels in 2000. He was released on parole in 2001 after serving two-thirds of a six-year sentence for running an illegal chop shop.

Following his release from prison, he accused police of harassing him when he was ticketed for having a noisy motorcycle -- then ticketed again for littering when he threw the notice on the ground.

He recently was paroled for his 2007 conviction and was living in the city with his wife.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 30, 2012 B1

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