Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Montreal's East End Gang - heartless Dubois misfits shaped a brutal era in Montreal

East End criminals from the 1970s were entirely unlike their well-publicized West End Gang counterparts but the two sides cooperated on various criminal endeavors in a relationship that has gone largely unexplored.
   Unlike their chatty and charming largely-Irish West End counterparts, the French-speaking East-siders tended to be brutish and vulgar, although Big Robert Poirier was seen in the vein of Dickie Lavoie,  as an oxymoronic lovable killer.
   Donald Lavoie and Alain Charron were frequently in the West End Gang's sphere.
    Charron, born in 1949 in Trois Pistoles, was slight of build, standing just 5'7" and weighing 140 lbs into his thirties.
     Lavoie, raised as an orphan in Chicoutimi, was also an angry small man and both partook in copious amounts of cocaine and alcohol. One witness interviewed by Coolopolis recalls Lavoie hitting his girlfriend at a restaurant with no apparent consequence.
   Simard and Lavoie soldiered for the Dubois Gang, which had roots in St. Henri but expanded east after their relationship with the Mafia disintegrated in 1971.
   Charron and Lavoie met regularly with West End Gang members such as Big John Slawvey in places like the Cafe de l'Est, Smitty's and Bar Robert. (All three profiled in Montreal 375 Tales.)
   The precise nature of Slawvey's business activities with the duo likely involved cocaine and theft. Slawvey, an experienced killer, inexplicably held the violent vulgarians in high regard, often noting that they were very serious, ruthless guys.
   Police claim that the Dubois gang was behind over five dozen murders over a 14-year span from 1968, including a dozen who were killed for fear that they might testify against them. The Dubois' feud with the upstart McSweens led them to shoot four dead in a nightclub on the south shore in 1975.
   Much light was shed on the gang thanks to Donald Lavoie turning police informant, including one fiasco which saw Charron misplace his gun in a Quebec City nightclub in 1978 on the way trying to kill Jean Carreau, who they thought needed to be erased as a possible hostile witness.
    Lavoie and Charron arrived at a cottage in Lake Beauport rented by Diane Larose, who was also later murdered.     
   An unsuspecting Carreau showed up at the cottage and Lavoie and Charron and a third man jumped him.
   Carreau fought back until Lavoie finally slit his throat.
   The killers feared neighbours might be suspicious of the corpse exiting the house, so they chopped it up and put it on a sled.
   They covered the sled and Larose sat atop of Carreau's dismembered corpse to ease suspicions as it scooted by on the snow. The killers buried Carreau's remains but animals later dug it up. Police were unable to officially identify the remains as those of Carreau.
     In another famous case from June 1971 Lavoie and his brother Carl threatened Laurier Gatien, who owned the Montreal Tavern on St. Lawrence.
   The brothers demanded protection  money.
victim Carreau
   The ritual was that a gang member would come in and order a "special Labatt 50" which was code to bring the envelope with the extortion cash.
   Gatien turned them down flat.
   The brothers suggested Gatien read the newspaper the next day.
   Gatien opened the paper to read that Louis Fournier,43, the owner of the country music cafe Jan Lou at 1203 St. Lawrence, just 800 feet from his tavern, had been killed along with his organist Robert Beaupre, 33.
   Donald Lavoie was tried and acquitted of killing Fournier and Beaupre.
   Gatien continued to refuse to pay extortion and the Dubois gang hired someone to shoot at him in June 1972.
   Gatien caught him by the collar and beat him until he confessed to taking $300 for the deed.
   In March 1973 three armed gunmen came in to scare Gatien but he had an M-1 machine gun and they fled. In June 1975 the gang attempted to place explosives in Gatien's car but didn't have time to complete the job.
   Gatien was also shot in the shoulder walking home another time.
   Verreault once refused to pay for his beer and then tossed a knife at Gatien. It got stuck in the fridge door.
   The gang smashed Gatien's bar up a few times and once throttled him until a regular patron intervened. The attackers were arrested but freed the next day.
   Gatien then got police protection from Det. Sgt. Leo Ducharme.
   Gatien's son died of a heart attack in August 1973. Gatien suspected that the Dubois gang had him killed somehow.
   Dubeau, Michel Verreault and Yvon Doucet sent the grieving father flowers with the message "I hope you dug a hole deep enough for a second dog."
    Verreault returned to the bar and held a knife to Gatien's throat soon after but police burst in and stopped him. The gang threatened to kill Gatien if he testified against them. Verreault was sentenced to 12 year in prison for that and other crimes.
    The Dubois gang collected extortion cash and controlled drugs and prostitutes from the following bars among others: La Tour, Bellevue Tavern, Le Plateau Tavern, Saguenay Bar, l'Hosti'd Place bar and the La Grande disco.
   Lavoie also told a court that Claude Dubeau, 32, invited him to a threesome with his 19-year-old girlfriend Micheline Sylvestre, 19.
   Dubeau fetched a fishing knife and stabbed her a few times at her apartment on Papineau on March 23, 1974.
   "There's another who'll never talk to Grimard Poirier!" he said after doing the deed.
   Lavoie, Dubeau, Real Levesque and Gilles Leblanc, who both later died in a car crash, then buried the body in a field.
   Dubeau was charged with the murder in 1981.
    A decade earlier Dubeau managed to wrest control of the drug trade from St. Louis Square from the Devils Disciples, who had been ravaged by an internal dispute that saw about two dozen killed.
   The Dubois-vs-Mafia conflict saw another fiery moment involving Richard Desormiers, 25, brother of Pauline Desormiers who was the wife of mafia bigwig Frank Cotroni and mother of their six children.
   Desormiers shot Lionel Corbeil, 29,  dead outside the A and P Tavern at 3163 Fleury E. (now Bistro Fleury) in February 1972. In fact five people shot Corbeil after a fight inside the drinking establishment. Desormiers was the only one charged. He was acquitted after Tony Mucci, 17, changed his statement when on the stand, telling a judge that Desormiers wasn't even there.
   Desormiers had been bothering staff at Claude Dubois' L'Osti d'Place disco on St. Denis.
   The Dubois brothers wanted Desormiers dead and Claude Dubois met with Desormier's brother-in-law Frank Cotroni to discuss at Sydney Leithman's office.
   Dubois confronted Cotroni and said "If you don't bring him into line we will," according to testimony from journalist-turned Dubois-pal Claude Jodoin
 tried twice to kill him without success, once at a downtown restaurant where two hooded men aimed to surprised him. But they put the plan aside because too many diners were at the eatery.
Victim Claire Milhomme
   Desormiers was finally shot dead at the Mon Pays Cabaret at 10192 St. Michel. Manager Jacques-Andre Bourassa, 53, was also shot dead by mistake in the shooting of July 20, 1973.   
   Claire Milhomme, 50, who came to hear the band that night, was shot in the legs in the crossfire but survived.
   Claude Dubois, 45, yvon Belzile, 43 and Claude Dubeau, 40 were charged with killing Desormies.       
   Lavoie felt insulted when someone in his circle noted that cops had chalked the killing up to "a bunch of punks."

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