Morbid Curiosity


Kane, Dany: Double Life, Double Death – When Hells Angels hit man Dany Kane was found dead in August 2000, a reporter asked Sgt. Guy Ouellette, a Quebec biker expert with the Sûreté du Québec, for his reaction.

“Curious,” Ouellette said, and he certainly wasn’t exaggerating.

The death of Kane, thirty-one, born in St. Luc, Quebec, a village about thirty kilometres south of Montreal, was nothing if not curious.

Kane reportedly died of carbon-monoxide poisoning in his Mercedes in his garage, but his family noted that his face had apparently been severely beaten.

His private life was equally curious. He was a family man, but also had a gay lover. Professionally, he killed at least two people for the gang and supplied explosives that were used in at least another nine killings between 1994 and 1997, but he was also a long-time RCMP informant, with source number 3683. He left a note for his RCMP handlers which read, “Who am I? Am I a biker? Am I a policeman? Am I good or evil? Am I heterosexual or gay? Am I loved or feared? Am I exploited or the exploiter?”

Kane’s death wasn’t particularly big news at the time, but eight months later, it leaked out that he was a major informer behind Operation Springtime, a massive crackdown by police on 122 Hells Angels across Canada.

In the trials against seventeen Angels that followed in May 2002 in Montreal, the court heard that police had offered Kane $1.75 million to infiltrate the Quebec Hells Angels. He was a “source agent” who wore a wire, recorded biker meetings, photocopied documents, and gave videotaped testimony for the police. As part of his cover, the RCMP sponsored his gay sex magazine, although some members of the Mounties feared that he might be a Hells Angels plant, spying on police for his biker mentor, David “Wolf” Carroll of Halifax.

Kane began co-operating with the RCMP in 1994, around the time of an unsuccessful effort by the Angels to move into Ontario. The bikers wanted to expand into Toronto, Canada’s richest drug market, but they had no chapters in Ontario. Angels national president Wolodumyr “Walter” “Nurget” Stadnick set up a puppet (support) club called the Demon Keepers, whose sole mandate was to prepare the ground for the Angels’ expansion into Ontario.

Dany Kane

Kane was made president of one of its chapters, although he was only in his early twenties and spoke very little English. It was during this expansion attempt that Kane was stopped in Belleville on April 1, 1994. He served almost six months in custody for having two loaded revolvers in his car.

Sometime either while in custody or shortly afterwards, he agreed to work undercover with the RCMP , apparently having soured on the biker lifestyle. Meanwhile, the Demon Keepers were disbanded, and Kane joined the Rockers, also a puppet club for the Hells Angels.

By the time of the mega-trial of 2002, his evidence had led police to the Hells Angels’ main Montreal counting-house, which was processing as much as $1 billion yearly. As a result, forty-odd associates of les hells pleaded guilty in drugs cases.

Partly because of Kane’s work, police were able to compile a list of 135 people the bikers were trying to assassinate. In April 2002, in a Montreal courthouse, it took ten minutes for the court clerk to read the list aloud.

Much of this evidence was gathered when Kane wore a body pack – a hidden microphone taped to his torso that helped investigators penetrate the most secret of biker meetings – what they called “mass” – where all the killings and drug business were discussed.

Kane captured five of those masses on videotape, including one of a top member of the Nomads chapter named Normand Robitaille, whom Kane was supposed to be guarding.

On the tapes, Robitaille was recorded telling others that the price of a kilogram of cocaine was increasing to $50,000, with no room for debate. The price of a quarter-gram of coke on the street jumped from $20 to $25.

“The price of a kilo is now $50,000. I made a deal with the Italians. That’s the price now,” Robitaille said. This represented a $10,000 increase in the price.

Kane apparently killed himself before he could collect the full amount owed to him by police, but defence lawyers for the Angels suggested he didn’t really die at all, and that he had really been given a new identity before his closed-casket ceremony.

See also: Maurice “Mom” Boucher, Demon Keepers, Nomads, Aimé Simard, Wolodumyr “Walter” “Nurget” Stadnick .

Kelly (also spelled Kelley), Sam (a.k.a. Charles “Red” Nelson): Butch Cassidy Cohort – You can still stand inside the caves in the Big Muddy Badlands of southern Saskatchewan where Kelly and fellow lawbreakers, including Frank Jones and the Sundance Kid, hid out at the turn of the twentieth century. And if you bring a horse, it can still fit into the separate, neighbouring cave that the gang had for their mounts.

Because of the crimes of Kelly and his cohorts, the North-West Mounted Police was pushed to set up a detachment in the Big Muddy Valley, near the hamlet of Big Beaver.

Kelly’s band kept busy stealing horses and cattle on one side of the border and then selling them on the other. Occasionally, they broke the routine by robbing trains loaded with gold, and they sometimes also worked with outlaw groups like Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch.

Their hideout in the Big Muddy Valley became known as the “Sam Kelly Caves.” The caves, which had once been wolf lairs, were big enough to hide horses as well as humans, and the caves’ location, across from Peake’s Butte, on an elevated patch of land, gave them an expansive view of the area, including the trails used by Mountie patrols.

Sam Kelly Caves, Big Muddy Valley

When members of the gang saw the Mounties coming, they had plenty of time to flee back across the border into the United States and out of Canadian jurisdiction.

Kelly was born in Nova Scotia and it was not clear how he ended up on the prairies. What was clear is that he kept himself – and pursuing lawmen – busy. On May 25, 1895, he and another man watched the jail in Glasgow, Montana, where two associates were being held. After Deputy Sheriff “Hoke” Smith left town with a heavily armed posse in search of Kelly, Kelly and his friend rode calmly up to the jailhouse with two extra horses and freed their friends with a key, which had been shaped from tallow and made from tin.

One of the gang tipped his hat at the sheriff’s wife before they made their escape.

Around 1909, Kelly moved out of the caves and onto a ranch he bought in the Big Muddy Valley. Four years later, he moved north to a homestead near Debden, about seventy-five kilometres (forty-five miles) northwest of Prince Albert, bringing with him some horses and three friends from Montana. The area where they settled became known as Kelly’s Lake.

Kelly was accurate with a gun, although he didn’t enjoy the act of killing like his partner, Frank Jones. It was said in Debden that Kelly could dehorn a steer at a hundred yards with a rifle.

He was apparently well behaved in the Debden area, although the final few years of his life were sad. He was found, hungry and confused, at the bus stop in Smeaton, Saskatchewan, and committed to the Saskatchewan Hospital in Battleford, where he died and was buried in October 1937, at age seventy-eight.

See also: Big Muddy Badlands, Frank Carlyle, Dutch Henry, Outlaw Trail, Sundance Kid .

Kerrivan, Peter – See Masterless Men .

Captain Kidd: Respectable Pirate – There was a time when William Kidd was the very model of respectability.

A founding member of the Trinity Church in lower Manhattan, at Wall Street and Broadway, he donated equipment to help hoist stones for its construction, and also bought a pew there, as befitted his status as one of the wealthiest and most influential members of New York society in the 1690s.

At the time, Trinity Church was the tallest building in lower Manhattan, and was used as a landmark by ships, which was appropriate, since Kidd made his fortune on the high seas.

Home for Kidd was a well-appointed, three-storey mansion nearby on Wall Street, the city’s best street, where he lived with his wife, the beautiful Sarah Bradley Cox, who had been New York’s wealthiest widow, and their daughter, Sarah.

Legend has it that William Kidd was born the son of a Calvinist minister in Greenock, Scotland, in 1645, but in fact he was born on January 22, 1654, in Dundee, Scotland. His father was a sea captain who died when William was five, and his once-wealthy family was reduced to poverty.

Young William headed off to sea, mostly working ports and ships in the Caribbean. One of his captains may have been Captain Henry Morgan (of rum fame), who was granted a knighthood for his relentless attacks on Spanish ships.

Morgan, and later Kidd, were privateers, not pirates, which was a subtle-but-important distinction, because privateers were knighted, while pirates were hanged. Privateers were commissioned by governments to attack ships of enemy nations, while pirates were truly outlaws.

Put in the best possible light, the profession of privateer was respectable and patriotic, although their ships were often crewed by former pirates. Indeed, the states of New York and Massachusetts often dispatched Kidd to clear their coasts of enemy vessels.

Five years later, in London, Kidd was granted a royal commission to hunt pirates who preyed upon the ships of the East India Company in the Red Sea and in the Indian Ocean. France was at war with England, and plundering her ships in the name of England was nothing short of patriotic.

His sailing brought him into Canadian waters. On one voyage from England to New York, Captain Kidd and his warship, the Adventure Galley , fired a shot across the bows of a French fishing vessel off the coast of Newfoundland. Its crew was captured and, in that brief encounter, Kidd had managed to pay for his entire voyage.

Kidd tried to serve in the Royal Navy in 1695, but instead was commissioned by the Crown and by four members of Britain’s upper crust – the Earl of Shrewsbury, the Earl of Romney, Lord John Somers, and Admiral Edward Russell – to hunt pirates. At that point, piracy was proving a real threat to England’s growing trade empire.

His employers included King William III , a consortium of English lords, and some of America’s most influential individuals, and his job was to track down pirates and recover their spoils. In short, he had a licence to steal – but only from thieves.

Out on the high seas, life was anything but easy for Kidd. The pirates he was hunting would often rather die than surrender. He had to travel in a lone ship, manned by former pirates, many of whom had friends and relatives serving on the pirate ships Kidd was chasing. His ship’s articles didn’t allow him to punish his crew, except with a vote of the entire crew. The Royal Navy didn’t trust him, because he was a civilian, while the powerful East India Company considered him an interloper.

On top of that, he was a Scot trying to keep discipline over English and Dutch sailors. Once he rounded the Cape of Good Hope on his way to the India Ocean, the only ports were pirate ports. Despite all the challenges, he was somehow expected to find pirate ships in the twenty-eight-million-square-mile Indian Ocean, and he had just a year to do so, and pay back his impatient financial backers. Then things got worse, with storms, run-ins with ships from the East India Company, sickness, and, ultimately, a mutiny.

Back in England, his financial backers betrayed him with a cutthroat ferocity that would have made a pirate proud. The booty he collected wasn’t distributed through official channels. Instead, his backers took it all for themselves, and this act of greed proved to be his downfall. This undercut him to the point that the East India Company managed to get him officially declared a pirate and a wanted man. Usually, past sins were forgiven in the form of a pardon for the right money, and Kidd certainly had far fewer sins in his past than many other wolves of the sea who managed to purchase pardons and even titles.

Kidd got the news that he had been declared a pirate while he was in a tavern in Anguilla, and wrote, “The news of … being proclaimed pirates put the crew into such consternation that they [afterward] sought all opportunities to run the ship upon some reef or shoal, lest I should carry her into some English port.”

To make things worse, the former Trinity Church pew-holder had fatally struck a crewman during a shipboard quarrel, leaving him vulnerable to a murder charge. He was still confident he could clear up the misunderstanding, if only he could state his case, so he set sail for America. There he was arrested and shipped to London for trial.

Kidd’s backers were nervous now, and didn’t want it exposed that they had cheated the government out of money. Documents that should have cleared him mysteriously vanished, and Kidd didn’t have enough treasure to pull the aristocracy behind him.

When he was sentenced to death in May 1701, Kidd told the court: “For my part, I am the innocentest Person of them all, only I have been sworn against by Perjured Persons.”

As he was led on May 23 from Newgate Prison to Execution Dock at Wapping, East London, a jeering mob pelted him and fellow condemned men with food and dead cats covered in excrement. Standing in the gallows, with a rope around his neck, he had to listen to a noose break during an execution attempt of a fellow prisoner. He said he loved his wife and daughter, and then it was his turn. This time, the rope held. His body was left to rot in a cage by the Thames as a warning to would-be pirates.

Salty yarns tell of secret coves where Kidd buried treasure, like Gardiner’s Island off Long Island, or the depths of Money Pond on Montauk Point, or along the banks of the lower Hudson, or off the coast of Nova Scotia on High Island, or Haut Isle. The truth may be considerably less romantic. Author Richard Zack concluded that whatever treasure he left gathered dust in an Admiralty warehouse before it was auctioned off.

See also: Charles Bellamy, Eric Cobham, Cupids, Peter Easton, High Island, Edward Jordan, Mogul Mackenzie, Henry Mainwaring, Sheila Na Geira, Samuel Nelson, John Phillips, Gilbert Pike, Pirates, Bartholomew “Black Bart” Roberts .

Kiev Embassy – See Kyiv Embassy .

Kirby, Cecil: Mafia Nightmare – The last words that Rocco Remo Commisso spoke to Kirby were reassuring ones, as he later recalled.

“Don’t worry. We’ll take care of you,” Kirby said he was told. “You know we respect you as a brother. Don’t worry.”

At the time, Kirby was a killer, bomber, thug, enforcer, former Satan’s Choice biker chapter vice-president and road captain, and perhaps the sole non-Italian in the Toronto Mafia’s inner circle.

He was also, unbeknownst to Commisso, a police informer.

At the time Commisso spoke those words, on May 16, 1981, Kirby later recalled in court, Commisso thought Kirby had murdered Toronto mobster Paul Volpe for him. However, he had merely faked the killings.

Volpe had agreed to co-operate with police and handed them his wallet when told that he was a murder target. Then Kirby went to the home of Rocco Remo Commisso. Before they began to talk in earnest, a bathroom faucet was turned on to thwart any police listening device. Despite the precaution, this conversation was captured on a hidden recorder worn by Kirby:

“Volpe, he’s dead,” Kirby said.

“How come?” Rocco Remo Commisso replied.

“I just killed him an hour ago.… Cosimo told me you and he wanted it,” Kirby responded.

“You should never come here,” Commisso said.

“I need some money, okay, and I’m broke, okay … I need some money and I want to get … out of the country,” Kirby said.

“Tell me when I’m going to get it to you?” Commisso asked.

“Well a thousand or something just to get me out of here.… I took this right out of his back pocket, okay,” Kirby said, referring to the wallet.

“You should have thrown [it] away.… All right, don’t worry. We’ll take care of you,” Commisso said.

Volpe remained on the street as the brothers went to prison.

As a result of Kirby’s undercover work for police, there were guilty pleas by brothers Rocco Remo, Cosimo, and Michele Commisso to plotting to murder two people in Canada. Rocco Remo and Cosimo were sentenced to eight years in jail, while Michele and a fourth man, Antonio Rocco Romeo, thirty-two, all of North York, who were involved with Cosimo to kill Helen Nafpliotis, a former hairdresser in Stamford, Connecticut, received sentences of two and a half years.

The three Commisso brothers also admitted in a negotiated plea that they conspired to murder mobster Paul Volpe and Pietro Scarcella, a Toronto cheese distributor and Volpe’s driver.

Cosimo Commisso pleaded guilty to hiring Kirby to beat up a man called Lillo, a North York furniture-store owner.

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ontario did not mince words as he sentenced the four men. “This is a gangster case,” Chief Justice Gregory Evans said. “It is a contract killing case and we can feel little clemency or mercy with those involved in this case.… (I would) remind those who are similarly inclined that contract killing in this province is a very reprehensible offence.”

During one meeting with Cosimo Commisso, Kirby testified that he was told he would be put on the payroll. His salary would be $500 a week, with bonuses for crimes committed for the crime family.

Cosimo told Kirby that Volpe was to be killed, and later promised $20,000. He added that Kirby would have to decide on his own whether to kill Volpe’s wife if she were present.

Kirby knew it would also endanger his own life, since his old bosses would want to conceal their crime and avoid paying some $20,000 for Volpe’s death.

Among other things, Kirby told police:

• it took only a bottle of whisky to get a friendly postal worker to steal credit cards and driver’s licences;

• in just two hours, bikers could find unlisted phone numbers, thanks to a sympathetic Bell Canada employee;

• a dispatcher with the Ontario Provincial Police was feeding the gang information;

• information could be culled on extortion targets through a banker who supplied credit information and the contents of bank accounts;

• bikers could check licence numbers of cars they suspected were unmarked police vehicles, thanks to an employee at the Ministry of Transportation and Communications; and

• bikers carried the phone number of a woman with access to CPIC , the central Canadian police computer.

A decade after the murder plots, Kirby sat in a Toronto restaurant with his back to the window, like a man without a worry in the world.

“I’m happy, a changed man,” Kirby said in an interview with the Toronto Star . “I haven’t committed a crime for about ten or eleven years. I don’t intend to, either.”

At that time, Kirby was in hiding.

Kirby admitted his past included supplying guns to criminals, maybe even the gun used to kill Const. Michael Sweet at the Bourbon Street Tavern on Toronto’s Queen Street West on March 14, 1980.

He had also beaten, threatened, and bombed people who wouldn’t knuckle under to criminals. A bomb he planted at the Wah Kew Chop Suey House on Elizabeth Street killed cook Chong Yim Quan and injured three others in May 1977.

Kirby admitted that he didn’t turn on the Mob for moral reasons, but because he knew too much and his own life was in danger. He also didn’t bother to fake great remorse. “If it’s past it’s past,” he said of the hurt he had caused. “I could tell all these people I’m sorry for the hurt I caused them. But what will that do? They would probably want to spit on me.”

Aside from the Commisso brothers, Kirby also helped jail Toronto disco bomber Harold Arviv and more than a dozen others, including Charles Yanover, who was convicted of trying to overthrow the government of Dominica.

Kirby was right about the danger to his own life. By 1982, police heard of four separate contracts of $100,000 for his death and a figure of $250,000 was later mentioned. In 1985 some bikers almost cashed in when they discovered where Kirby lived, but he was able to flee before they could kill him.

Kirby joked that the price for his death has probably gone up: “What’s a contract worth? With GST , the end of the recession, and inflation? It must be some good bucks now.” But he noted with pride that he wasn’t living in fear. Once, he even slipped into a Toronto Mob restaurant, sipped a cup of cappuccino, and strolled out unnoticed, feeling pepped up by adrenaline as well as the coffee.

“I don’t worry about dying,” Kirby says. “I never did. I think I’m less concerned now than I used to be. Now, I’ve got [moral] conviction. I’ve got remorse. But I still don’t care if I die.”

Asked what he would say to his former Mob associates, if he could have one last conversation, he smiled and his eyes twinkled. “Go to confession.”

See also: Harold Arviv, Rocco Remo and Cosimo Commisso, ’Nndrangheta, Pietro Scarcella, Satan’s Choice .

Krowetz, Russell: Slain Manitoba Biker – Robert Blaine Tews cut a chilling figure, even in the world of outlaw bikers and street drug dealers. At fourteen, he was bigger and stronger than most men – tough enough to beat up some of the nastiest men in Winnipeg’s downtown.

By his late teens, he had slit the throat of a Winnipeg taxi driver from ear to ear. A decade later, after spending much of his prison time pumping weights, he weighed more than three hundred pounds and was doing guard duty for the Manitoba Warriors, a Native group that in the mid-1990s appeared to be the biggest opposition to the Hells Angels.

That set Tews against Russell Krowetz, a member of the Redliners, a puppet gang set up by Hells Angel Wolodumyr “Walter” “Nurget” Stadnick, who had moved to Winnipeg from Hamilton, Ontario, to oversee Angels’ interests. Krowetz and fellow Redliner Stefan Zurstegge had been running hookers in a downtown area known as the “low track.”

After ugly words in an after-hours drinking spot, Tews, Roger Sanderson, vice-president of the Warriors, and Robbie Sanderson, a junior member of the Warriors, made a late-night visit to Krowetz’s home on August 6, 1996.

When the three men left the house, Krowetz had been stabbed thirty-six times – so often that investigators wondered if the killers were trying to lop off his head. Two of Krowetz’s visitors – who weren’t Redliners – were also tortured and murdered. One was hacked thirty-four times, the other ten times.

When police arrested Tews, an officer had to hook two sets of handcuffs together so that they could reach behind his massive, bulked-up body. Tews and the two Sandersons were sentenced to life terms, and an officer involved in the arrest grimly joked that he would ask to go into a witness-protection program if Tews was ever released.

An elderly couple moved into the Semple Avenue house where the murders took place. The couple, who have no connection to bikers, have painted the trim of the house pink and planted a tree as a memorial to the slain men. Once a year, they hang a memorial wreath on the front door.

See also: Warriors, Redliners, Wolodumyr “Walter” “Nurget” Stadnick, Zig Zag Crew .

Kung Lok Triad: Unlikely Name – Kung Lok means “mutual happiness,” but the society has a three-hundred-year history of murder, narcotics, extortion, abduction, forcible confinement, fraud, robbery, and gambling.

The Triad arrived in Canada from Hong Kong in 1974, in the form of Lau Wing Kui. He moved to Toronto, with thirteen “boys” or cell leaders under him, and quickly expanded Kung Lok operations from Vancouver to Saint John, New Brunswick. By 1979, the Canadian Kung Lok had 150 hard-core members, who collected “protection” money from illegal gambling houses, and extorted money from Chinatown businessmen and recent immigrants and students from Hong Kong.

In 1980, Kui was declared persona non grata and deported, but his organization remained intact. Although the Kung Lok went through a period of infighting after the loss of its founder, its new leaders kept expanding in the early 1980s, and forged pacts with triads in Boston and Los Angeles.

In 1981, Toronto was represented when Triad chieftains met in Hong Kong, at what has been likened to the Mafia’s 1957 Appalachian meeting, when Mob figures from across North America gathered in Upstate New York to map out their territories and operations. “The meeting resulted in a recognition of territories and an agreement to assist one another when necessary,” a 1986 U.S. presidential report on organized crime said. “The participants ‘burned the yellow paper,’ a ritual that symbolizes brotherhood and the start of a new venture.”

Toronto police investigating an extortion and beating in 1983 discovered a hundred-year-old book on initiation rites to the secret Kung Lok Triad. It gave them a glimpse into an initiation ceremony that called for aspiring members to swear three dozen oaths and drink a mixture of their own blood, wine, chicken blood, cinnabar, sugar, and ashes.

In the mid-1980s, the rival Ghost Shadows group had joined forces with the 14K Association and they were asserting themselves in Chinatown, at the expense of the rival Kung Lok.

During the early 1980s, Vietnamese gang members were recruited by old-style Triad members to stand guard at gaming houses across Toronto, some of which grossed $50,000 in nightly earnings. But the guards turned on their bosses and gaming house patrons and owners were often beaten and robbed.

By the early 1990s, Triad members entered Canada in the entourages of pop singers from Hong Kong, using their visits to smuggle drugs, launder drug money, and import prostitutes. “We simply do not know who among actors, singers, crew, technicians, dancers, musicians, choreographers, electricians, camera person, director, etc., that are part of groups who go to Canada regularly are triad members,” a Canadian police report said. “Their roles and actual purpose in going to Canada can be so easily disguised.”

See also: Big Circle Boys , 14K Association, Ghost Shadows, Lau Wing Kui, Sun Yee On .

Kyiv Embassy: Mafiya Gateway – In the late 1990s, fraud and mismanagement at the Canadian Embassy in Kyiv (formerly Kiev) meant suspected organized-crime figures and other illegal immigrants were able to slip into Canada.

The problems first came to light in August 1998, when the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and Citizenship and Immigration Canada officials complained that the Kyiv embassy in Ukraine didn’t check to see if visa applicants had organized-crime connections. A year later, immigration officials complained further that the embassy had issued visas to two more people without properly screening them for ties to the East European mafiya . “One of these individuals was suspected of involvement in money-laundering on a massive scale,” Derek Fraser, Canadian ambassador to Kyiv, said in a February 2001 report.

Kyiv and Moscow were considered major bases for East European organized-crime groups active in financial fraud, prostitution, auto theft, drug smuggling, and money laundering. The RCMP found evidence that an employee in the trade section in Kyiv had taken bribes in exchange for providing business visas to bogus businessmen, bypassing regular security screening procedures.

The Kyiv case wasn’t the only case of bribery and corruption problems at Canada’s overseas missions. Almost two hundred cases were investigated from 1996 to 1999, and forty-five staff members were found to have engaged in misconduct in Syria, Pakistan, Kuwait, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Ivory Coast, the Philippines, and elsewhere. Despite the huge damage they could cause, corrupt embassy employees were seldom subject to criminal charges.

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