The man who placed the winning — and only — bid at Tuesday's mortgage auction of the Chalet Hotel — home to Teasers strip club — is a disbarred lawyer who led a secret double life as a pimp until his conviction for kidnapping and prostitution two decades ago.
The Free Press has learned that Gary Wayne Gabriel Patterson is the man who bid $1.3 million for the Chalet Hotel at Kaye's Auctions in downtown Winnipeg Tuesday morning. The hotel, at 611 Archibald St., has seen its share of violence in its century of existence. Two police officers died following a raid of the hotel in 1920.
Patterson, who did not respond to a request for comment prior to deadline, has a disturbing criminal history stemming from the late-'90s in Toronto when he kidnapped a teenager, forced her into street prostitution and threatened her with mutilation if she disobeyed his orders.
Following a two-week trial in May 2000, Patterson, then 36, was found guilty of 10 criminal charges. He was sentenced to seven years in prison, serving four before being released, according to widespread coverage in Toronto media, including the Globe and Mail.
Two accomplices, Royce Briscoe and Penny Roberts, were also convicted for their involvement in the scheme. They were sentenced to four and three years in prison, respectively.
The details of the 1997 episode are grisly. The 19-year-old victim had previously been preyed upon by an associate of Patterson’s named Rick Downey, a fellow pimp.
The woman — whose name was placed under a publication ban during the trial — had originally been persuaded to work as a street prostitute by Downey. However, she later reported him in to police and was set to testify against him in an upcoming trial.
But Patterson abducted the woman and told her if she did not recant her story her mother and brother would be killed. He then forced her back into street prostitution and threatened her with mutilation if she did not do as she was told.
Later, Patterson sent the young woman to work at an Oshawa strip club. Seven days after her arrival there, she fled from the club and reported the matter to police.
Throughout that time period, Patterson was living a double life. He was a commercial and real estate lawyer by day and violent pimp by night. He had been called to the Ontario bar in 1995 and was also licensed to practice law in the state of New York.
Justice Lou Ferrier of the Ontario Superior Court denounced Patterson as a "parasite" for preying upon an unsophisticated teenager. He further lamented that there were probably hundreds of other women in Canada going through similarly horrifying ordeals.
That case, however, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the criminal allegations lodged against Patterson over the years.
The state of Nevada issued a warrant for his arrest after he fled the area in 1995 before he was scheduled to stand trial on pimping-related charges. The U.S. authorities did not initiate extradition proceedings after he was arrested in Canada.
In addition, during his trial in Toronto, Crown attorney Mary Humphrey tried — and failed — to introduce as evidence the accounts of two other women who claimed to have been enslaved and beaten by Patterson, the Globe and Mail reported.
While he was awaiting trial in Ontario, a company Patterson owned — Grand Medicine — was awarded a government contract to deliver prescription medicine services to 20 northern Manitoba First Nations.
This came at the same time as Paul Cochrane, assistant deputy minister with Health Canada and head of the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, took $200,000 in kickbacks in exchange for allocating $70 million in funding to an addictions treatment centre based at Sagkeeng First Nation.
Patterson’s former ownership of the company was first reported by the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network in 2017. It remains unclear how Grand Medicine was awarded the government contract while Patterson was awaiting trial in Ontario and wanted on similar charges in the U.S.
Cochrane was later sentenced to one year in prison after pleading guilty to fraud in connection with the kickback scheme.
On Wednesday, the Free Press spoke with Robin Skolnik, who took over as owner-operator of the Chalet Hotel and Teasers Burlesque Palace in 2010. Previous attempts to contact her — or anyone employed at the business — had been unsuccessful.
Skolnik stressed that she remains the operator of the hotel and strip club and will continue to be the only person involved in the day-to-day operations. She declined to respond to any questions related to her business relationship with Patterson.
A spokeswoman for the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba said there is nothing to stop someone with a criminal record from applying for — and receiving — a liquor licence.
However, she said disclosure of past criminal history is mandated through the application process and that information would be factored into whether or not a licence would be issued to the individual in question.
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.