When the trial of Daniel Jolivet opens in Longueuil, it looks like a closed case. La Presse doesn’t even send a journalist there.
Two weeks earlier, his “accomplice” in the quadruple murder sat down to eat. His name is Paul-André St-Pierre. He was arrested the same day as Jolivet. Charged with the same four murders. And just as his trial was about to begin, he turned around and asked to become an informer against Jolivet.
To the police, St-Pierre “told everything” about the sordid execution of the two traffickers and the two young women, eliminated at the same time, that night of November 9 to 10, 1992 in Brossard.
Until then, the evidence against Jolivet rested on the testimony of another informer, Claude Riendeau, who said he had taken Jolivet’s confessions the morning after the crime.
What better proof than a direct witness? A man who claims to have accompanied Daniel Jolivet step by step during the fatal night. Who describes his own horror, when the assassin finishes off the dying victims. A bandit too, but still scared to the point, he says, of being afraid to go through it himself.
Yet this man who should be the best witness in the world will never take the stand.
Paul-André St-Pierre is not even on the list of prosecution witnesses when the trial begins. Why does prosecutor Jacques Pothier deprive himself of such strong evidence in principle?
Because his version is “a tissue of lies”, he will tell the court, without the presence of the jury.
A year and a half after the crimes, returned to trial, it was too late to tell another story, apparently. Or at least, this version was going to complicate the matter unnecessarily.
Riendeau had signed a formal informant’s contract with the public prosecutor at the outset of the case in 1992. In exchange for a new identity, a family move, drug treatment and $25,000 plus tax. At the time, St-Pierre was co-accused and no one expected him to testify for the prosecution.
A year and a half later, St-Pierre now wanted his informer deal, too. After all, he “gave” Jolivet much better than Riendeau: he was there and confessed his complicity!
The police and prosecutors, initially thinking they could rely on two informers rather than one, were excited by this unexpected testimony, which arrived at the eleventh hour. St-Pierre was quickly dangled with a reduced sentence of five years of “pen” in exchange for his collaboration with justice. He had been given a way out: he was no longer charged with the four murders (which carries an automatic life sentence), but with complicity after the fact. Just think: he was going to deliver the “real” assassin. It pays off.
Bad luck for the repentant: he found himself before Judge Jean-Guy Boilard, well known for his holy horror of the race of informers, these bandits who sit down to eat in exchange for favors, which often add a layer of it for the customer, or to clear customs and have someone else wear the cap.
Five years ? The suggestion was so shocking that Judge Boilard dismissed the plea of guilt outright, and kicked prosecutor Jacques Pothier out of court. He tried again before another judge, Réjean Paul, who dismissed him in the same way. Eventually, St-Pierre found himself before Judge Pierre Pinard, who found him guilty…but gave him 12 years instead of 5. While expressing his disgust at the maneuver of the prosecution and the opportunistic accused .
These are things that happen, of course; liars, at court and in town, sometimes tell the truth. Mounds of truth emerging in valleys of lies. Or the opposite. So much so that we no longer know when the lie ends and when the truth begins.
But while refusing to have St-Pierre testify, the prosecutor Jacques Pothier had a clear conscience: on the essential, that is to say who killed these four people, the versions of St-Pierre and Riendeau converged: it was Daniel Jolivet.
To this day, the question remains: why call the one who had seen nothing and exclude the one who was present at the crime scene?
Still, between two liars, the prosecution had chosen Riendeau, the one who had only collected confessions.
The trial of Daniel Jolivet for two first degree murders (premeditated) and two second degree murders (those of the two young women, unplanned) therefore opens in Longueuil on March 7, 1994.
Jacques Pothier, the most experienced prosecutor on the South Shore, announces his evidence to the 12 jurors:
“You will hear two people, namely Riendeau and Bourgade (Gérard, another whose name will disappear from the list of witnesses), who heard the accused announce his intention to get rid of two of the victims, namely Leblanc and Lemieux, and to in the presence of those two certain preparations for that crime. Riendeau will then tell you that the day after the crime, he met Jolivet and that the latter confessed to having cleaned the house. You will also see that Riendeau, at that time, saw, in the possession of the accused or other persons under his control, cocaine which came from the victims. And then we’ll present you with circumstantial evidence that partially relates to the accused, and other circumstantial evidence, all sorts of little circumstances that will show you that witnesses Riendeau and Bourgade cannot have made up their story and that it is based on independent facts that we are able to prove to you. »
This circumstantial evidence consisted of cell phone and “pager” (pager) records and technical analysis of the telephone towers that placed the accused at the scene of the crime in Brossard around midnight and possibly later. . That is, at the time of the crime.
Everything in this trial rests on Claude Riendeau. The central prosecution witness was a police officer in Boucherville from 1975 to 1978, before leaving his post in unclear circumstances. After various jobs, he met the one who would take him deep into the criminal underworld: Michel “Mike” Blass. The brother of the infamous Richard Blass lived on loan sharking and supplemented his income by being an assassin in the pay of organized crime.
Blass was also a mentor for Riendeau in denunciation. Mike Blass, indeed, became one of the most famous “repentants” in the legal annals, having confessed to 12 contract murders turned into “manslaughters” for services to justice.
In the 1980s, Riendeau “collected” loans for Blass, in addition to participating in hold-ups with him – at least 20, he said.
But even though he collected the money from around 40 clients a week, Riendeau told the court that he never used threats or violence.
Just seeing Blass’ face was enough, he told the jury.
Everyone knew Blass’ reputation, Riendeau the first.
“He was standing with [Yves] Apache Trudeau,” he told the jury. Trudeau, one of the worst assassins in the annals, is solely responsible for the new system of supervision of informers. In exchange for his cooperation with the justice system, he had been accepted to plead guilty to… 43 “involuntary homicides” for unsolved murders that he had revealed to the police. The scandal of this dubious agreement had been so enormous that a system of contracts with the State had subsequently been established. Henceforth, the informer had to reveal all his crimes, known or unknown to the police.
It was exactly this type of “repentant” contract that Riendeau himself had signed to testify against Jolivet.
In addition to shylocking and hold-ups, Riendeau was an arms trafficker.
He recounts growing away from Blass by becoming a cocaine dealer; his new associates were not too fond of his mentor. Himself addicted to the point of having had a detox treatment included in his whistleblowing contract, he was selling four to five kilos a week.
Rarely, Riendeau had already been an informer in a murder case in 1987. His accomplice in a hold-up had killed a police officer. Riendeau testified against him and got away with four months in prison.
Seven years later, he was again an informer in a murder case.
Riendeau told the jury that he knew Daniel Jolivet six or seven months before the murders, in 1992. Jolivet was a truck-trailer thief. He could steal cargoes of tires as well as quarters of beef or cigarettes.
Jolivet worked for Denis Lemieux, a major coke smuggler from the South Shore. Or let’s say he was doing business with Lemieux and his lieutenant, François Leblanc, who harbored what Jolivet stole. Lemieux had contacts in stores, restaurants and wherever there was a way to dispose of the stolen merchandise discreetly.
Riendeau had done a trailer theft with Jolivet, but he was more into the coke business. That’s how he met the man named Gérard Bourgade, a trucker who improved his income by bringing gunpowder from the United States.
Riendeau may be specialized in cocaine, but you don’t turn your nose up at an opportunity to make a pass. And it turns out that Riendeau had managed to steal a “van” of 125 washers and dryers with the complicity of Bourgade.
Denis Lemieux had advanced $8,000 to Riendeau and Bourgade for the merchandise.
But Lemieux was slow to recover the stock of appliances. The two thieves (Riendeau and Bourgade), caught with the “hot” trailer, grew impatient. It had to be moved.
Five days before the murders, on Thursday, November 5, 1992, truck driver Gérard Bourgade was arrested by the Montreal police anti-gang squad when he tried to change the hiding place trailer. Bourgade is accused of theft and concealment. But strangely, Riendeau, who is driving Bourgade’s car, without a license, on parole, obviously complicit in the operation, is arrested briefly before being released without the slightest charge.
Was he already in cahoots with the police? Is he the one who sold Bourgade? How did the antigang find them?
The two thieves must therefore go and explain themselves to Lemieux and his lieutenant Leblanc.
The appointment is made at the Cage aux sports, boulevard de la Concorde, in Laval, on Monday noon, November 9.
We guess that the sponsors of the theft are not in a good mood. It’s a lot more than $8000 they lose: it’s the easy profit that was coming. If they also had to learn that the two sold the stock a second time…
What happened that afternoon is the subject of contradictory versions. But if four people were shot the following night, it was because of what was said that afternoon in this restaurant in Laval.