Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Biker snitch under heavy security

Testifies in Hells Angels case

  • Print

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.

www.mikeoncrime.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 8, 2011 B1

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Gary Lawless & Ed Tait try not to bleeping cry over the woesome Jets

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Canada Goose cools off in a water pond Monday afternoon at Brookside Cemetary- See Bryksa’s Goose a day Challenge– Day 27-June 25, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Water lilys are reflected in the pond at the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden Tuesday afternoon. Standup photo. Sept 11,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Has the attack on Parliament hill shaken your faith in Canada's ability to protect its citizens from terrorist threats?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google