Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Former Hells Angel betrayed, sentenced

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It appears there truly is no honour among thieves.

A notorious former Manitoba Hells Angels member is headed back to prison after a longtime friend set him up to be targeted in a massive undercover police sting operation.

Billy Bowden was sentenced to eight years behind bars Friday as part of a joint recommendation from Crown and defence lawyers. He admitted to selling one kilogram of cocaine to a former criminal associate who was secretly being paid $500,000 to work as a police agent. The negotiations and transaction were captured on audio and video.

Defence lawyer Sheldon Pinx said Bowden thought he was helping his friend out of a financial jam and was stunned to learn he'd been figuratively stabbed in the back.

Bowden, 36, was one of 13 people arrested in February 2012 as part of Project Deplete. The large-scale takedown by the Manitoba Integrated Organized Crime Task Force -- comprised of officers from the Winnipeg Police Service, Brandon Police Service and the RCMP -- yielded an impressive haul.

Officers seized about 6.9 kilograms of cocaine, 4.6 kg of crack cocaine and 2.7 kg of methamphetamine. They also seized more than 9,800 tablets of ecstasy, about 500 tablets of oxycodone and about 900 grams of marijuana. The probe has been underway since August 2011.

Bowden is no stranger to the justice system. He struck a plea bargain on a charge of manslaughter for his role in the stabbing death of 24-year-old Jeff Engen in a Main Street nightclub in 2007. He was sentenced in August 2010 to two years of time already served, which was given double-time credit of four years, under a joint recommendation from Crown and defence lawyers.

Prosecutor Daniel Chaput admitted at the time Bowden was getting a major break, as the Crown would have sought a much longer sentence had he gone to trial and been convicted. He said there were several problems with the Crown's case against Bowden that prompted prosecutors to agree to a much lighter sentence than usual. Although there were more than 50 potential witnesses to the killing, Chaput said "surprisingly very few had much to say about what happened." No witnesses put the knife in Bowden's hand and the Crown can only prove he participated in the group attack.

A co-accused, Matt Wegier, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to four years in prison.

www.mikeoncrime.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 1, 2012 B2

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