May, 2010

Friends in respectable places

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Someone told me several years ago that members of the so-called underworld are only as strong as their friends in high and respectable places.  I now take it as a truism rather than as a cynical comment. When Michel Auger and I wrote The Encyclopedia of Canadian Organized Crime, we found this observation to be born out, from pirates of the 17th century to modern-day mobsters. I think of this as I note that a former member of the RCMP pleaded guilty to running weapons for outlaw bikers in Winnipeg. This is the same area when Michael (Taz) Sandham, one of the men convicted in the Bandido Massacre, worked as a police officer and studied outlaw biker gangs, while on the public payroll.

Prairie crackdown

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Back in the heyday (for lack of a better world) of Michael Taz Sandham, the Hells Angels were clearly at the top level of Winnipeg outlaw biker life. Now, the Bandidos are no more than a nasty memory and the local Hells Angels are reeling from sustained police attention. That included $500,000. That’s half of what police paid to Steven Gault of the Oshawa Hells Angels to creak havoc in the ranks of the Niagara Region and Oshawa chapters.

Leaky police files

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

In one of the cases related to the book, Niagara Region Hells Angel Gerald (Skinny) Ward bragged to paid police agent Steven Gault that he had a source in the police leaking him confidential documents. Certainly, it wasn’t all talk as police files were found in a raid of Hells Angels properties. Apparently, no one in police will be punished for the leak, as Const. Dean Rudge has been acquitted of breach of trust charges. Meanwhile, Gault, a truly dangerous man, received more than $1-million from police for betraying his former biker brothers and telling police their secrets.

Interesting sandwich

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Publishers are always looking for trends and patterns in book buying. I notice The Bandido Massacre is now sandwiched on’s non-fiction list between Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men by Lenard Sax and Why Men Love Bitches: From Doormat to Dreamgirl – A Woman’s Guide to Holding Her Own in a Relationship by Sherry Argov. I suppose the pattern here is bad male behaviour.

Where are they now? Part II

Friday, May 7th, 2010

David (Wolf) Carroll of the Quebec Hells Angels plays a part in my book, but if he has a copy, there’s a good chance he didn’t get The Bandido Massacre from a Canadian bookstore. Carroll has been on the run for a decade or so, and the charges against him include more than a dozen murders and murder conspiracies. He’s on the Most Wanted lists for Quebec and Jamaica. He is not to be confused with the David Carroll who recorded the “Melody of Love,” song, now available for cell phone downloads. He is also not to be confused with the Broadway actor of the same name.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Raso of the Loners, an old enemy of David Carroll the biker is still alive and well, although I don’t think anyone can remember when he and Carroll the biker were on good terms. Raso was the proud owner of Woody the Lion, the Loners’ mascot, until pesky bylaw officers took him away. I once inspected Woody at the Loners’ former compound in York Region north of Toronto, and found the big beast well fed and clean. Back then, one of the Loners scoffed at the suggestion that Woody was a guard lion, noting that he was kept inside a welded steel cage.

Where are they now? Part I

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Ion (John) Croitoru, a longtime Hamilton-based biker, is now in a West Coat jail cell, awaiting charges on a murder plot involving the United Nations gang, who got their name by the diversity of criminals in their midst. Croitoru had been working as a security guard, sometimes standing watch over visiting celebrities, at the time of his latest arrest.

Croitoru and several others in the now-defunct Satan’s Choice were once arrested after trying to blow up the Sudbury Police Station. He launched a multi-million dollar lawsuit against police after he was charged with murdering Lynn and Fred Gilbank, Ancaster lawyers who were killed in their home in 1998. That case remains unsolved.

He is a walking challenge to the belief that sports build character. He once played Major Junior Hockey before becoming a professional wrestler, sweating and bodyslamming under the names “Bruiser Bedlam,” “The Terrible Turk,” and “Johnny K-9“. The story is that he adopted the “Johnny K-9″ moniker after he saw “Canine” on a police van once when he was being arrested.

Moving well

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

It was a pleasant experience to check my Google Alerts and see that The Bandido Massacre is still moving well, in the top 10 for Canadian non-fiction. I’m always curious how many books sell from stores and how many online, and what effect, if any, reviews have. I’m really happy to have website designed by Jefferson Rabb, the same person who designed The Da Vinci Code website and numerous others I love, including for Dr. Seuss books. I first noticed – and was impressed by – his work when I saw the site for The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream. Like The Bandido Massacre, this is a complicated, layered story with dozens of important characters and Jefferson’s site does a great job of capturing its gestalt.

Great night and ash after-effects

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

It was a great event in Port Colborne at the Roselawn Centre. Lots of people, friendly reception, wonderful Italian meal at Lucy’s Cafe & Catering and everything else you can hope for. Makes  me want to write another book just to get back there.

On another note, apparently the London Book Fair was a bust because of the volanic ash from Iceland ruing air travel. Now the Frankfurt Book Fair in the fall becomes more important for selling international rights for books, but obviously a great opportunity has been lost, or at least postponed.