Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 7/3/2011 (2027 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
He turned his back on the Hells Angels and betrayed the loyalty of a good friend.
So it comes as no surprise that Franco Atanasovic's appearance in a Winnipeg courtroom Monday came under heavy police security. His work as a secret agent made him many enemies in the criminal underworld and justice officials weren't going to take a chance that somebody wouldn't try to mete out some public payback.
In the end, Atanasovic's testimony against former Hells Angels president Ernie Dew went off without incident. It was a case of déja vu for the former good friends and criminal associates, whose lives took drastically different paths following a 2006 sting operation that caught Dew in its net.
Dew, 52, has pleaded not guilty to charges of cocaine trafficking and possession of goods obtained by crime. He was previously convicted at trial and sentenced to 13 years in prison -- thanks largely to Atanasovic's testimony -- but successfully appealed the verdict and won a new trial which is now being heard by a judge alone.
Atanasovic is in witness protection but was brought to court Monday to testify again against Dew. Several heavily-armed police officers were stationed around the courthouse and in the hallways to ensure he was protected.
Dew was one of 13 people charged following a massive police sting called "Project Defence" that was helped by Atanasovic, a career criminal who was paid more than $500,000 to infiltrate the Angels starting in 2005.
He wore a wiretap and allowed police to gather video surveillance of drug deals.
Dew was caught in the sting doing four separate cocaine deals with Atanasovic. The Crown has previously called Dew a commercial drug trafficker who was at the "highest level of sophistication."
Atanasovic told court Monday how he negotiated a deal with police that had him go undercover for nearly a full year. Dew lost his perch atop the outlaw motorcycle gang after his arrest.
The Manitoba Court of Appeal previously ruled that Dew did not get a fair trial because the judge in the case neglected to order that he have a lawyer represent him for his full hearing, not only parts of it. Dew is now being represented for the entire trial by defence lawyer Mark Wasyliw.
A dozen other people arrested in the undercover operation have already been sentenced, including Dew's wife, Vera, who was given four years in prison.