UPAC hunting the journalistic sources for the last two years

News 8 February, 2018
  • Éric Thibault

    Thursday, the 8th of February 2018 11:08

    Thursday, the 8th of February 2018 11:23

    Look at this article

    For nearly two years, the Unité permanente anticorruption (UPAC) is on the hunt for journalistic sources, which would be the origin of many stories in the media.

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    This tracking down suspected perpetrators of “leakage of police information” is open well before the patron of the UPAC, Robert Lafreniere, has promised to find the “bandit” that has sunk to our Office of investigation of documents from its organization, in may of 2017, or that he has claimed publicly, “that no journalist has been the subject of surveillance any” of its troops in November 2016.

    It is what emanates from a sworn statement of an investigator of the UPAC to obtain search warrants from a judge in the case of Guy Ouellette, and information confirmed to the Journal de Montréal by police sources.

    The affidavit of the sergeant-investigator Jean-Frédérick Gagnon, of which the judge Serge Champoux comes to authorise the publication in part, is dated 25 October 2017, the same day where the mp Ouellette was arrested.

    Archival Photo Pierre-Paul Poulin

    The boss of the UPAC, Robert Lafreniere


    Request to the SQ

    It reveals that, as of April 22, 2016, “an investigation is opened by the professional standards Branch of the Sûreté du Québec with respect to the leaks,” which would have first powered a reportage on Radio-Canada and of articles in The News referring to the records of the UPAC.

    Our sources are formal: it is at the express request of the UPAC that the SQ has instituted this survey. This detail is not specified in the affidavit of 97 pages.

    Assigned to this investigation for “obstruction of justice”, the investigator Michel Comeau claims to have “had the idea” to contact the member Ouellette for him to ask his “aid,” according to court documents.

    “Being a former police officer and involved politically (…), I wanted to see if he could help me, or if he had heard some journalists talk to him [of an anonymous informant], who had contacted several journalists at the time,” reads the affidavit.

    On July 21, 2016, Comeau asked the member for Chomedey if he knew where it could come from the supposed leakage of information.

    “It says to look at the UPAC. He has been a witness of the fact that Ms. Anne-Frédérick Laurence, who is [director] communications, talked too much to journalists,” replied the ex-specialist in the fight against the bikers.

    No monitoring of any kind”

    The survey was on the spot when the government Couillard has announced the setting up of the commission Chamberland on the protection of journalistic sources, in November 2016, after that several journalists had been spied upon by some police forces.

    “The commissioner of the fight against corruption, Mr. Robert Lafrenière, ensures that no journalist has been the subject of an investigation or surveillance of any of the analysts-investigators or police officers of UPAC (…) since (its) inception in 2011”, claironnait then the UPAC in a press release published on November 3, 2016.

    The following spring, our Office survey published reports that, according to the sergeant Gagnon, talked of the “documents” related to the project Mâchurer, a survey of UPAC “still in progress” which focuses on financing the liberal Party of Quebec. The ex-prime minister Jean Charest and the treasurer of the PLQ, Marc Bibeau, “are the subjects involved in this investigation”, he said.

    On April 25, 2017, the commissioner Lafreniere announced “an internal investigation to identify the origin of the transmission of confidential documents”.

    Thus, the operator of the UPAC was first asked his son-in-law Martin Prud’homme, who was then in charge of the SQ before going to take the head of the SPVM, if the provincial police could conduct this survey. This time, Mr. Prud’homme himself is said to have “refused for the sake of transparency,” according to the affidavit of sergeant Gagnon.

    Archival Photo Chantal Poirier

    Martin Prud’homme

    The numbers of journalists

    Called “Project A”, the leak investigation has finally been entrusted to a few members of the UPAC assisted by colleagues from five police forces.

    Sergeant Gagnon writes that investigators have identified four suspects: mp Ouellette, the ex-policeman Richard Despatie, the police officer Stéphane Bonhomme, as well as the former contractor Lino Zambito, who was a witness-featured at the Charbonneau commission (see another text).

    With the approval of a judge, the investigators, have put their hands on the records phone of the suspects, up to 2015.

    They did not need to ask permission from a judge to find out if journalists had exchanged calls or text messages with one or more suspects.

    “I got to Anne-Frédérick Laurence the list of phone numbers of the journalists with whom it deals in carrying out its functions,” says the sergeant Gagnon in his statement.

    Ignoring for the moment whether “the cross-analysis of records of telephone”, as described by the sergeant, has allowed investigators to know if the suspects have contacted journalists since a good part of the results of this analysis has not been made public.

    The allegations contained in the court document have not been tested before the courts because no charges have yet been laid in this case.

    Lino Zambito identified as a suspect

    Lino Zambito, who was a witness featured in the Charbonneau commission, is also a suspect in the investigation into leaks of information to the UPAC.

    This is specified in the sergeant Jean-Frédérick Gagnon in his sworn statement that led to the issuance of judicial authorizations in this folder.

    The former vice-president of the firm Infrabec — sentenced to two years less a day of house arrest, in 2015, for conspiracy, fraud and corruption in connection with public contracts fixing the City of Boisbriand, has himself collaborated with the UPAC in several of its investigations, said the sergeant Gagnon.

    Investigators believe that Zambito “is in contact with Richard Despatie”, a police officer retired from the SQ who has been fired by UPAC in the fall of 2016 and which would have had “in its possession information to investigate”.

    Richard Despatie, the police officer Stéphane Bonhomme and mna Guy Ouellette are the other suspects mentioned.

    Simon Clark/QMI Agency

    Lino Zambito


    They all denied

    It accused Mr. Zambito said investigators Caroline Grenier-Lafontaine and David Ouellet UPAC, in April last, “that he had seen the proof [of the project Mâchurer] and the police have it in droves to accuse premier Jean Charest and Marc Bibeau”.

    Recall that last week, MESSRS. Zambito, Ouellette, Despatie and Fellow categorically denied any involvement in these leaks when they were questioned in court by the lawyers of the ex-ministers Nathalie Normandeau and Marc-Yvan Côté, the palace of justice of Quebec.

    Lino Zambito has even suggested to the investigators “to listen to” the commissioner Lafrenière, and the former chief of staff to the prime minister Couillard, Jean-Louis Dufresne, to know where were these leaks.

    Ouellette followed on the highway by the no. 3 UPAC

    In full “hunt the leak”, the mna Guy Ouellette has been the target of an implausible pursuit on highway 20 by none other than the number 3 of the UPAC, the inspector André Boulanger.

    In the affidavit of sergeant Jean-Frédérick Gagnon, of which The paper has partially received a copy, it is said that on the 11th of last may, the inspector Baker – who is director of operations at the UPAC – riding on the 20 “at a constant speed of 114 km/h” when a black car overtook at high speed in spite of heavy traffic”.

    Such a patrol a motorway from the SQ, the top-ranking officer of UPAC, which suggests that it was not a operation of spinning against the liberal mp – if is then launched in pursuit of the vehicle brand Infiniti, at 14: 25.

    Photo Simon Clark


    20 km

    The inspector Baker mentions that the driver being chased was changing lanes without the turn signal activated to perform an overflow.”

    It “had to continue for 20 kilometres the vehicle Infiniti black (…) before you will be able to catch up,” says the court document.

    The interception occurred at 14 h 34. And there, if we are to believe the inspector Baker, surprise!

    “Coming from the passenger side of the vehicle, ( … ), the police officer finds that the driver is the sole occupant (…). He realizes that this driver is Guy Ouellette”, alleged the UPAC.

    Not a contravention of

    According to the inspector Baker, the mp Ouellette was “very nervous”, “gestured” and had avoided the gaze, while calling him simply by his first name, Andrew.

    He takes the trouble to add that the sergeant upon the retirement of the SQ did was “no smell of alcohol”.

    The inspector Baker has not presented any report of infringement to the member at the end of this intervention. It would be only wise Guy Ouellette that “the door of the compartment of gasoline (Infiniti) was open”.

    Prud’homme has advised that he would not micro

    While he was in charge of the Sûreté du Québec, the current chief of POLICE has had to warn investigators in the hunt for the leaks to the UPAC that he would not “micro” to help trap his friend and former fellow police officer Guy Ouellette.

    This is what Martin Prud’homme told the RCMP investigators who went to question him on two occasions “as a witness” in the case of leaks in the UPAC, says the statement of the sergeant Jean-Frédérick Gagnon.

    These meetings highly unusual of 11 September and 17 October were held at the request of the person who was then at the head of the most important body of police in the province, after having learned that Guy Ouellette was suspected in this investigation.

    “Not an agent source”

    Mr. Prud’homme, it was reported that the deputy Ouellette and him have a “friendly relationship” and interacted occasionally at this period. They have a “personal and professional relationships since 1992” then they were both police officers in the SQ.

    “I’m not an agent source. I will not put microphones”, he said from the outset to investigators to make them understand that it would not help crush liberal mp. The affidavit of the sergeant Gagnon does not specify if the investigators had previously asked the chief of police to register a member without his knowledge.

    “Martin Prud’homme has always been convinced that Guy Ouellette is an honest police officer and an honest man, wrote the sergeant Gagnon. Mr. Ouellette has never asked for sensitive information, and he never would dare to do.”

    “The Situation is incestuous”

    The director Prud’homme, stated that it is “known” that his father-in-law and patron of the UPAC, Robert Lafreniere, and Guy Ouellette “do not appreciate”.

    “It would, however, be very surprised to learn that Mr. Ouellette has been the subject of the information related to active investigations of UPAC”, stated the sergeant Gagnon in his statement of the 25th October last.

    Saying then ignore if Guy Ouellette knew that he was suspected, Martin Prud’homme knew that”there’s a big war to UPAC” and that “someone has an interest in UPAC to appear evil”. “If Robert Lafrenière lost his post, the appointment of his replacement would be made by the national Assembly,” he added.

    In addition, Mr. Prud’homme has described as an”incestuous” situation between the UPAC and the SQ. We understand from the affidavit that the ex-director of the SQ was likely referring to the fact that most of the staff investigation of the UPAC are first and foremost “players”: members of the SQ, which remains under its “administrative authority” even if they are loaned to the brigade headed by the commissioner Lafrenière.

    Mr. Prud’homme even wanted “to withdraw its members of UPAC” and that it becomes “an entity that is totally independent,” according to the court document.

    Fearing himself to leak, Martin Prud’homme hoped that these meetings remain secret, refusing to sign a “formal declaration” to prevent “it is to be found in the bulletin, TVA 18 h”, he said.

    Read in the records of the court:

    “Our team does not investigate the sources of journalism or journalists.”

    “(The director of communications at UPAC” Anne-Frédérick Laurence has not noted any device Denis Lessard (print journalist) had been called, but pointed out that the three numbers with which it communicates normally are: (…)”

    “I got to Anne-Frédérick Laurence the list of phone numbers of the journalists with whom it deals in carrying out its functions.”

    “The mandate that has been entrusted to us is to investigate the theft of documents from an ongoing investigation, abuse of trust, obstructing and criminal offences that are associated with it.”

    “Michel Pelletier [associate commissioner of the UPAC] has in its possession the contact card related to Guy Ouellette, who has obtained from the commissioner to the fight against corruption, Robert Lafrenière. The latter had in his possession at the time that he occupied the function of deputy minister at public Safety. According to this file, the numbers associated with Guy Ouellette are (…).”

    “Only on prepaid phones (…) and (…) [editor’s NOTE: these are two numbers that UPAC connects to Guy Ouellette], activated on June 14, 2017, 155 contacts with the (…) have been recorded. This is 41 % of the links recorded phone on the prepaid phones (of) Guy Ouellette.”

    “On 25 October 2017 at 9: 15 a.m., the S/D (d / s / sgt) Michael Bond was seized from Richard Despaties a phone iPhone 6S black color (…) thereafter, between 9: 41 and 13: 38, the following messages have been exchanged between [the iPhone], handled by the lieutenant Caroline Grenier-Lafontaine, in the presence of the S/E (sergeant-investigator) Maxime Bouchard and the [phone] Guy Ouellette. (…) The objective sought by the police is to pretend to be Richard Despaties and that it has a “scoop” that may be of interest to Guy Ouellette.”

    “(…) April 5, 2017, Lino Zambito knew that Robert Lafrenière would testify to the study of the appropriations of the UPAC on may 4, 2017, even before Robert Lafrenière will not know this information (…)”

    “To this day, Richard Despaties is the only investigator who has been laid off of UPAC since its inception. My understanding is that Richard Despaties has been in contact with Lino Zambito and provided him with a state of the situation of UPAC.”

    “On July 24, 2017, I am informed by lieutenant Caroline Grenier-Lafontaine, Stéphane Bonhomme has given his phone to be rendered inoperative during the end of the week because a vehicle had rolled over. (…) I have reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the breaking of the phone (…) is a deliberate act.”