January, 2011

Dirty money, clean use

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

It’s hard to call the No Surrender Crew (the old Toronto chapter of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club) organized crime, since they weren’t that organized and didn’t make any money from crime. Some of them had troubles just keeping their cell phones paid up.

Some of the old Ontario Bandidos did move on to organized crime, including illegal online gambling. There’s real money there, especially in Super Bowl season. Jim Rankin of The Toronto Star and I took a look at how some of that money paid $2-million in victims’ compensation after a woman’s life was ruined in a botched gangland hit attempt.

A new link

Friday, January 28th, 2011

There’s a new link on my webpage, http://cancrime.com, that provides a connection to some of the work of Rob Tripp, a long-time crime and justice reporter at The Kingston Whig-Standard, who’s now working freelance. I’ve admired and appreciated Rob’s thorough, enthusiastic and intelligent work for some time. Among other things, he notes that Wayne (Weiner) Kellestine is a pariah amongst fellow inmates in Kingston. Kellestine, who loves to try to charm and manipulate others, is now a lonely target behind bars.

K-9 KO-ed?

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Former Satan’s Choice member Ion (John) Croitoru, better known by his former pro wrestling name of “Johnny K-9″ faces a murder charge in B.C., relating to that province’s underworld wars. It’s not the first – or second – time he has been suspected in a contract killing. He was charged with the murders of lawyer Lynn Gilbank and her husband Fred in their Ancaster home in 1998, but those charges were later thrown out. Croitoru came on the police radar years ago, when he attempted to blow up the Sudbury police station. The Gilbanks murder remains unsolved.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

I just googled to see how The Bandido Massacre is doing, and was reminded that I’m not the only Peter Edwards writing books. There’s a Peter Edwards in England who seems very scholarly, who’s written about the role of horses in history, which seems quite fascinating. Even more interesting is another Peter Edwards who has written about his life as a transvestite escort. Again not me, and again, quite fascinating.

Nice guy, nasty stories

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

A long time ago, when buffalo roamed the plains and I was in elementary school, I went to see hockey hero Phil Esposito at a department store, where he had been hired to sign autographs. He was too busy chatting with some adult muckety-muck to bother to even make eye contact with us kids. I didn’t keep his autograph long, as it was nothing more than a reminder that sometimes people with great skills can conduct themselves like jerks. A couple more opportunities to see athletes in unfavourable lights (including Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon) in adult life made me happy to get out of sports reporting and into crime writing. You have no expectations of good behaviour from criminals. Anything nice is a bonus.

This brings me to my interview earlier this month with novellist James Ellroy, who you might call a grown-up writing hero. I was curious what he’d be like to chat with. I was hopeful wouldn’t turn out to be a jerk (a la Phil Esposito and Warren Moon) and ruin my enjoyment of his writing. I’m happy to report that he seemed like a genuinely nice guy. True, he had a product to sell but he seemed to really care about answering questions as fully as possible. It’s nice when someone can have a skill and not use that as an excuse to act like a jerk.

Hells Bells Howard! Part II

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

It was brought to my attention that Howard Hughes, producer of the Hell’s Angels movie, served as an inspiration for writers of The Simpsons with the Mr. Burns character. Thanks John for the input.

Hells bells Howard!

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

It sounds like something from a James Ellroy novel. The world’s richest man played a part (inadvertently) in naming the world’s biggest, baddest biker gang. He produced a long-forgotten 1930 movie called Hell’s Angels. American air force pilots adopted the moniker in World War II. After the war, a newly-formed biker club took the name for themselves. In his declining years, Hughes would watch Hell’s Angels and other movies alone and naked, his hair uncut, his fingernails like claws and his body unbathed. Not a pretty picture.

Hells leader off to prison; Satan’s Choice early history available

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Andre Watteel of the Hells Angels is well known in the Kitchener area as someone who ran a toy drive for kids at Christmas and a soup kitchen for the less fortunate. He also sold large amounts of cocaine to an undercover police agent, whom he had known for years.

For that Watteel received a 4 1/2 year prison sentence. Apparently it would have been longer, if not for his good works.

For years Watteel was a prominent member of the Satan’s Choice, before they patched over to the Hells Angels.

The early years of the Satan’s Choice are described in Riding With Attitude. It’s written by Don Norris, who founded the club back in the 1950s, and is available at: donnorris@rogers.com.

Readers outside Canada and Winterhalder on airwaves

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

I’ve gotten some emails from American readers, wondering where they can find the book. A site I often use to save time when ordering books is alibris.com.

Alibris.com is a world-wide, online book buying network, with both new and used books. You can find The Bandido Massacre there now, along with an amazing number of other books. I find this site really useful and time-saving when I’m researching books.

There will be French and German language versions of The Bandido Massacre later this year, along with a trade paperback in English. The trade paperback (it’s the size of a hardcover but with a softcover) will be coming out in February.

Also, here’s an interview on Fox6 with my friend and fellow writer, Ed Winterhalder:

Biker Balkans

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

I remember back when I was studying history, how confusing I found the politics of the Balkans. And whenever I felt that I might have sorted things out, it all shifted and I was back at ground zero.

Sometimes I get the same feeling looking at biker clubs. Often it’s the same cast of characters, switching patches like they were fastened on with Velco. Yesterday’s Bandido is today’s Mongol and tomorrow’s Rock Machine and next week’s Vago.

Rob Lamberti and Chris Doucette of the Toronto Sun bravely sought to sort out where things stand in the Greater Toronto Area at the moment. I don’t know Chris but I have worked with and in competition with Rob for years and I believe whatever is printed under his byline. He’s thorough and careful and takes his reputation seriously.

I personally think the Hells Angels have things too sewn up for there to be any biker war in the GTA.  Billy Miller and Paul Porter were both Angels’ rivals, but accepted patches and now are HA leaders in the province. The Hells Angels don’t really have to fight. They can just offer patches to people they want inside their tent.