Sunday, October 09, 2011

Montreal's Top 10 gangland murders: # 9 Richard Desormiers

Donald Lavoie
On July 22, 1973 Claude Dubeau, 31,  Yvon Belzil, 34, and Donald Lavoie walked into the Mon Pays cabaret on St. Michel Boulevard just prior to 3 a.m. closing and shot Richard Desormiers dead, as a service to the Dubois gang.
   Desormiers was Frank Cotroni's brother-in-law and he had been deemed to be encroaching on Dubois territory.
   Dubois assassins had already tried to kill Desormiers twice but third time proved to be the charm.
   Lavoie watched over the crowd inside the bar while his partners others blasted away, killing Desormiers. But when waiter Jacques-Andre Bourassa stood up, Lavoie shot him dead too. Not only was Desormiers killed dead, but hitman Belzil drove off in Desormiers' Cadillac.
   The shooting was another day at the office for Lavoie, who had participated in 27 murders for the Dubois gang,* a group of 10 brutal brothers from St-Henri who controlled the drug trade and protection rackets and prostitution in the 70s.
   Eventually however the Desormiers murder would prove the gang's downfall.
  And it started when Journal de Montreal crime reporter Claude Jodoin befriended Claude Dubois and eventually realized that he was in way too deep. The two had taken trips to Barbados together where Dubois pretended to be a prison warden and Jodoin a lawyer. It wasn't a stretch, as Jodoin had studied law at McGill.

Dubois bankrolled a few nightclubs that Jodoin ran and Jodoin wrote a sympathetic book about the brothers and even coached them on how to testify to stay out of jail, and all of that contact taught him the deep secrets of the gang.

Claude Dubois, at left, with Claude Jodoin
   Jodoin testified against the criminal gang but it wasn't enough to put the brothers in jail.
   Prosecutors would only get solid dirt on the Dubois brothers due to a curious incident nine years after the murder.
   Lavoie was at a wedding of one of the Dubois gang members and overheard Claude planning to have him killed.
   Lavoie fled immediately, escaping the Sherbrooke St. E Quality Inn from a laundry chute as Dubois and a friend hunted him at the wedding. After Lavoie escaped, he realized that it was me-or-him and so he planned to kill Claude Dubois.
   But Lavoie never got to pull the trigger on Dubois because in the interval the busy boy committed a home invasion robbery on a bank manager, relieving him of $135,000.
   Cops nabbed Lavoie and he went informant, even though Belzil had concocted various plots to kill him or his family if he testified. His testimony against Dubois landed the leader 10 years in jail and Belzil ended up behind bars as well, pretty much crippling the gang that terrorized St. Henri and beyond for much of the seventies.
   Meanwhile several other Dubois brothers were convicted of various crimes around the same time.
   Lavoie helped solve dozens of murders and supposedly returned to a normal life in anonymity.
   As for the victim Desormiers, he had a brother Michel Desormiers, also Frank Cotroni's brother-in-law who became a big cocaine importer for the Hells before being shot dead on his porch in Two Mountains in 1983. After that, Hells Angel leader Yves Buteau was shot dead, probably in retribution.
*Another source said Lavoie killed 15, participated in 34 others and had information on over 70 murders)

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