Thunder Bay police chief cleared of criminal charges

“I accept that Levesque was acting in good faith,” said Thunder Bay judge.

Willow Fidder
APTN News
A judge found the chief of Thunder Bay police not guilty Thursday of obstruction of justice and breach of trust relating to his involvement in an extortion investigation against the city’s mayor.

Justice Bonnie Warkentin found J.P. Levesque did, as chief of police, have discretion to give the Mayor Keith Hobbs the heads up he was a target of an extortion investigation in 2016.

Even if that discretion was an “error in judgement”, Warkentin said the intent wasn’t there for an obstruction conviction, adding the Crown’s evidence was circumstantial.

“I accept that Levesque was acting in good faith, and Crown has failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt Levesque tried to obstruct justice,” said Warkentin.

As for the breach of trust charge, Warkentin said the Crown needed to prove Levesque used his office for other than the public good and no witnesses testified on the intent of Levesque trying to do so.

“There’s no basis for which he committed breach of trust,” she said.

Several Thunder Bay police officers and members of the police services board attended court Thursday and broke out in applause when the charges were dismissed.

In late 2016, a former Afghanistan war veteran went to the RCMP believing Hobbs was trying to extort Sandy Zaitzeff, a popular lawyer in the city. The RCMP quickly handed the complaint over to the Thunder Bay police on Dec. 14, who were then expected to ask the OPP to investigate the complaint.

Before that could happen Levesque told Hobbs on Dec. 21 about the investigation. He also told the city manager, the chair of the police services board, a former deputy chief and a Thunder Bay staff sergeant.

Levesque told the court he told Hobbs because he was going on vacation soon and didn’t want Hobbs finding out on his own who may create havoc for the deputy chief covering for him. Others testified it was a “heads up”.

The RCMP was stunned when they learned Levesque told Hobbs he was a target of an extortion investigation.

“I was stunned. I didn’t know what to say. There was nothing to say,” testified RCMP Cpl. Ron Miller during the trial last November.

Hobbs had spent 34 years as an officer on the Thunder Bay police before becoming mayor.

The complainant against Hobbs was 36-year-old Craig Loverin, who was a friend of Zaitzeff.

Loverin testified that Hobbs set up a meeting in the parking lot of a Metro grocery store and Tim Horton’s on the evening of Nov. 17, 2016.

He said Hobbs got into his vehicle and gave him a USB memory stick that contained several videos of Zaitzeff being recorded at his home allegedly acting inappropriate with a minor.

Loverin said he was directed to give Zaitzeff the memory stick that Hobbs claimed to have gotten from a Thunder Bay police detective.

The court heard that Hobbs told Loverin to give the videos to Zaitzeff so he “knows how much trouble he is in.”

The court also heard that Hobbs wanted Zaitzeff to buy his ex-girlfriend, Mary Voss, a home for $420,000, when he had only planned to purchase one for $250,000. If he didn’t Zaitzeff would be on the front page of a national magazine.

Zaitzeff had already been charged in late November with several counts of sexually assault on a minor when Loverin went to the RCMP with the allegations against Hobbs.

The OPP would later charge Hobbs and his wife Marisa Hobbs with extortion and obstruction of justice in July.

Voss was charged with extortion.

Those matters are still working their way through the courts.

Video Journalist / Thunder Bay

Willow is an Oji-Cree Anishinabe from Sandy Lake First Nation. Her background is in print journalism and she studied multimedia before entering broadcast news . She is passionate about the stories of the Anishinabe in northwestern Ontario, particularly in the remote north.

4 thoughts on “Thunder Bay police chief cleared of criminal charges

  1. Seriously,if there was a tri-force drug unit investigation….would you involve the Thunder bay police service?
    Not knowing who leaked what!

  2. As Mr.Bumbles said;

    “The law is an ass!”

    Hopefully the crown will appeal.
    Maybe the police department will now offer weekly “Tips from the chief”, where the police chief will inform individuals that they are under investigation.

  3. Seriously,if there was a tri-force drug unit investigation….would you involve the Thunder bay police service?
    Not knowing who leaked what!

  4. As Mr.Bumbles said;

    “The law is an ass!”

    Hopefully the crown will appeal.
    Maybe the police department will now offer weekly “Tips from the chief”, where the police chief will inform individuals that they are under investigation.

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