Canada - OTTAWA - Hells Angels boss Paul "Sasquatch" Porter, who led a mass defection of rival bikers in 2001 to give the crime corporation the first Ontario franchises in its 60-year history, now wants out of the gang business and intends to turn in his colours with "honour" so he's not looking over his shoulder in retirement.
Porter, who had been a founding member of the Rock Machine biker gang before joining the Hells Angels, was sentenced to two years in prison in 2012 after Ottawa police, acting on a tip, pulled over his 1964 Cadillac Deville and found nine ounces of cocaine in his girlfriend's purse. Because Porter pleaded guilty, few details about the drug trafficking case were revealed publicly.
Prison files, however, show that Porter owned up right away and told police that the cocaine was his and that he'd put it in the purse without his girlfriend's knowledge. Charges against her were withdrawn after Porter agreed to enter a guilty plea, the terms of which included police returning his vintage Cadillac.
Porter, now 50, was denied parole in June. According to parole board records, Porter confirmed last month he would leave the Hells Angels for good as long as membership of the elite Ottawa-based Ontario Nomads chapter increased so his exit would not force it to close. Hells Angels by-laws require each chapter to have at least six members to keep official status. The prison documents suggest Porter's exit could jeopardize the chapter's membership requirement.
"The (parole) board discussed your relationship with the (Hells Angels) and confirmed that it is your stated intention to leave 'with honour' so that you would not place yourself at risk in the future, as you would if you were to leave dishonorably," board members said in their June decision.
"You claim that you have never been violent, either as a member of the Rock Machine or the Hells Angels even during the time that the two groups were engaged in a deadly war. You appeared to want the board to believe that these motorcycle gangs were violent but ... that you were uninvolved. Rather, you claimed to be a peacemaker during that time."
Porter, who has been working as a cleaner while he serves his sentence at an undisclosed prison, received a score on an evaluation indicating he is a low risk to re-offend - enough to earn most prisoners parole. What's more, Porter has been a model inmate with no institutional charges or security concerns, according to his prison file.
But, the parole board ruled, "In spite of this score your case management team believes the results ... could be an under-estimate of your risk given your connections to motorcycle gangs."
The Hells Angels boss is being kept in prison because of his leadership role in the global crime corporation, according to the board.
"Although your criminal history is not particularly dense, it does include convictions for drugs and weapons, but more importantly, we cannot ignore your participation in a leadership role within (a) motorcycle gang for many years. We believe that you have deeply entrenched criminal values and attitudes and that your adherence to your criminal associates is particularly strong. This is a risk issue that has not been mitigated following your arrest or conviction, and has convinced the board that your risk to the community would be undue at this time. Therefore, day parole and full parole are denied," the board ruled.
Nicknamed Sasquatch for his 6-7 frame that once carried 400 pounds, Porter's Rock Machine waged a Quebec biker war against the Hells Angels in the 1990s that claimed at least 150 lives, including innocent bystander Daniel Desrochers, an 11-year-old boy killed while playing near a jeep that was blown up.
While with Rock Machine Porter was twice a target of the Hells Angels. He survived two attempted hits by his then-rivals and once told the Citizen, "It wasn't my time to die."
Originally from Montreal, Porter headquartered his chapter in Ottawa, a city he knew well after months-long stays at a safe house in Vanier during the biker war.
Former Rock Machine associates who stayed with him in the safe house told the Citizen they gained a lot of weight because they rarely went outside for fear of being shot, having take-out food delivered by underlings.
In 2001, Porter led a mass defection of Rock Machine bikers to the Hells Angels. The gang's plan to take control of Ottawa's underworld was hatched over lunch at an Italian eatery in the city's east end.
The new gang wasted no time, and seven months later, Porter was calling the shots as president - a reward for leading the mass defection.
Ottawa's Hells Angels, whose members have ranged from an accountant to a reputed hit man, used to control an alleged 80 per cent of Ottawa's drug trade - a claim never proven in court. These days, police say, they control only about 20 per cent.
Police say the organization also rakes in profits from money-laundering, extortion and prostitution.
The gang's executive meets at least once a month, and has set its sights on peaceful expansion.
As president of the Ontario Nomads, Porter has full authority over members, is empowered to overrule any club vote and leads all motorcycle runs. Police say before Porter was sent to prison he rode around town on a three-wheeler, though the Citizen has only seen him roar down Wellington Street on a two-wheeled Harley Davidson.
In a statement to the Citizen, the Hells Angels have denied police claims that it is a criminal organization.
The gang's profile in the capital is not quiet and members sometimes wear their colours around town - an act of confidence rarely seen in other Canadian cities beyond annual runs and charity events.
In police circles, Porter is known as intelligent, a good negotiator who keeps a low profile.
Some of his former criminal associates have told the Citizen his biggest fear was ending up in prison. But the first year of his first federal sentence has been unremarkable, according to documents obtained by the Citizen, especially after prison officials made a point of weeding out any inmates who might have been incompatible because of gang affiliations.
Porter has told the parole board that his post-criminal life will include running a tow-truck company and repairing motorcycles on the side. He once told the Citizen, over morning orange juice, that he makes an honest living charging $50 an hour to fix motorbikes.
He has also told the Citizen that he farmed vegetables to sell on the side of the road in Ottawa's east end.