MANITOBA is expected to be a focal point for bikers -- and law enforcement -- across Canada following the death of a longtime local associate, the Free Press has learned.
Leonard Beauchemin died last weekend in Stonewall hospital following a recent diagnosis of terminal cancer. Beauchemin was once a prominent member of the now-defunct Los Brovos gang, then became a trusted Hells Angels associate once they established a Manitoba chapter.
"It was very quick. A bittersweet loss. His criminal life overshadowed any goodness," a family member told the Free Press this week.
Sources said a celebration-of-life gathering is set for Friday in Gunton at a colleague's farm.
As a result, bikers from other parts of Canada are expected to attend to pay their respects.
Gunton is 50 kilometres north of Winnipeg, near Teulon.
The event will also bring out police, who will monitor their arrival to ensure there are no incidents. Typically, officers use these types of gatherings to conduct surveillance and take photographs and videos, which they add to their extensive database on bike gangs.
Beauchemin was at the centre of a dispute involving the Hells Angels clubhouse on Scotia Street, which was seized three years ago under the Criminal Property Forfeiture Act. Beauchemin is listed as the owner of the 2,865-square-foot heavily fortified home, currently assessed at $357,000, which was described in court documents as a Vegas-style "party pad."
Beauchemin had been living in Keewatin, Ont., and justice officials say the home was listed in his name in an attempt by the Hells Angels to bog down the legal process because he wasn't a full-patch member.
"The clubhouse serves as a symbol to rival criminal organizations of their presence and domination over unlawful activity in the area," Det.-Sgt. Ken Downs wrote in an affidavit filed in support of the court application.
"It provides a base of operations, a place to make social ties and recruit new members, is a safe area to conspire about the commission of unlawful acts... and allows the Hells Angels to commit unlawful activities in secrecy."
Property used in, and proceeds from, unlawful acts may be forfeited to the government by order of the court. Proceeds from the sale of forfeited property are placed in a fund to compensate victims of crime and pay for programs that reduce or prevent crime.
It's not clear how Beauchemin's death will affect the court battle over the clubhouse. Manitoba Justice officials recently filed an application to have the Hells Angels declared a criminal organization in order to speed up their legal bid.
Justice Minister Andrew Swan said the initiative is believed to be the first of its kind in North America. If the biker gang is added to a list of criminal organizations, justice officials would no longer have to establish this as fact when undertaking proceedings under the Criminal Property Forfeiture Act and other provincial laws.
The listing could not be used in the prosecution of bikers under the federal Criminal Code. But it would make it easier and less time-consuming for Crown attorneys and investigators to go after defendants in provincial proceedings.