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Pasquin Piranha: Lawya Gangsta

Louis Alain Pasquin is ... was a Quebec lawyer – he was disbarred in March of 2009.

He is the first lawyer convicted, in Canada, of gangsterism.

In March 2006, the Quebec police arrested 26 persons including Pasquin, after a 9-month investigation, operation Piranha. The police had recorded 137,750 phone calls to seal the deal. In addition, 49 kg of cocaine were seized (and 136,000 Viagra pills!).

Pasquin was charged and convicted of conspiracy to traffic cocaine, traffic of cocaine, organized crime and possession of cocaine for the purposes of traffic. Pasquin was very familiar with §467.11 of Canada's Criminal Code:

"Every person who, for the purpose of enhancing the ability of a criminal organization to facilitate or commit an indictable offence under this or any other Act of Parliament, knowingly, by act or omission, participates in or contributes to any activity of the criminal organization is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years."

Three were charged but Pasquin was alone to fight and give evidence. Pasquin participation was to allow, in 2005, his residence to serve as headquarters of his co-accused, Louis-Alain Dauphin’s cocaine distribution operation, cocaine secreted into Montreal from British Columbia. He also became their information courier, telling buyer when seller was in town and vice versa.

Pasquin, then 49, gave evidence at his March 2009 trial. He told Quebec Superior Court, Madam Justice St-Cyr presiding, that he had become Dauphin’s lawyer and that Dauphin had been to his home and Le Pinot and Vulcano restaurants, but purely for social reasons; at least that is what he thought. There had been meeting at his law office but those had been lawyer meetings. The cocaine ring, he told St. Cyr, he knew nothing about. In fact, once apprised of his friends cocaine trafficking charges, he declined a request to arrange a conveyance, fearing, reasonably, that it was but money laundering.

Louis Pasquin had been a lawyer for 21 years, dabbling in civil and tax litigation but primarily doing criminal law work including a number of organized crime files.

The Journal de Montreal reported that his client list had included Salvatore Brunetti (who the Chateauguay newspaper refer to as a member of the Hells Angels) and members of the Cotroni mafia clan.

He was also city solicitor for the municipality of Chateauguay but that retainer was terminated days after he was arrested.

Canadian Lawyer magazine described Pasquin as a:

"… well-known defender of bikers and mobsters from the Hells Angels to the Montreal Mafia’s notorious Cotroni clan."

Pasquin’s evidence was rejected by St. Cyr. She determined that he was privy and part of a conspiracy, noting that one of the meeting places of choice being Pasquin’s home or his office. His language on the recorded calls were chock full of coded words (poutine was used to refer to cocaine), incompatible with his plea that he knew nothing of the cocaine ring. On March 6, 2009, Justice St. Cyr found that Pasquin lied under oath and that he was a ringleader.

She heard counsel for the lawyer on sentencing - his lawyer suggested a conditional sentence; the Crown sought a 6 year prison term. But on June 12, the judge sentenced Pasquin to a 4.5 year jail term, stating that his status as lawyer was an aggravating circumstance as he used his client-solicitor confidentiality to advance crime. His co-accused received six year sentences.

The Quebec Bar followed up with an immediate disbarment.

Still Pasquin appealed his conviction and managed to eke out a bail order so he remains free on the streets of Montreal, even now, some 15 months later.

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