BRITISH COLUMBIA

William Mastop, BC Gang Lawyer, Sentenced

04/04/2013 02:51 EDT | Updated 06/04/2013 05:12 EDT
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VANCOUVER - The British Columbia lawyer who acted as a "tool" for a criminal gang has been sentenced to a year in jail in the first such conviction of its kind in Canada.

William Mastop, 46, pleaded guilty last December to participating in a criminal organization known as the Greeks.

A prosecutor told the judge during a sentencing hearing that Mastop provided the gang with court documents that led to the murders of two people.

But B.C. Supreme Court Justice Mark McEwan said there wasn't enough evidence that the information led to the deaths and only some of Mastop's behaviour was criminal.

"In this respect his utility to the criminal organization seems to be not much more than as a convenience," he said.

McEwan said Mastop played only a peripheral role in the gang's activities and that mitigating factors such as his loss of community standing and job loss prompted him to rule in favour of a more "moderate" jail term.

Mastop's lawyer asked for a sentence of between 10 and 18 months, while the prosecution was looking for a sentence of up to three years in prison.

At a sentencing hearing in March, 75 intercepted phone conversations between the lawyer and gang members revealed Mastop offered to obtain court information for the Greeks.

Documents Mastop provided the organization contained search warrant information that revealed an unnamed informant — information the gang later used to kill two people they wrongly thought were responsible, the prosecutor told the sentencing hearing.

Mastop and the Greek's gang leader Peter Manolakos also grew up together in Vernon, B.C., where Mastop later became a criminal lawyer.

Crown lawyer David Jardine said he feels Mastop's actions make the whole legal profession look bad.

"It's an embarrassment to the profession to have a lawyer go so far off the road to become a tool for a criminal organization," said Jardine.

"It's not a situation that a court has been confronted with in Canada before so there was no real guiding precedence as to what to do."

The Law Society of British Columbia said in a statement its disciplinary committee will be deciding what kind of action to take against Mastop.

The society said disciplines can range from a reprimand to disbarment.

Manolakos and four other gang members or associates were convicted last November in connection to three murders, although police have said they believe as many as seven were killed by the gang.

When sentencing Mastop, who is a competitive shooter, McEwan ruled the man can have his gun collection returned when he's released from prison.

Evidence showed Mastop had visited a Vernon gun club with gang members, bringing them in as his guests.

In the earlier sentencing hearing, Mastop's lawyer David Crossin pointed to worse cases of lawyers breaking the law, including the lawyer caught trafficking heroin.

Crossin argued Mastop had been an upstanding member of the community and society prior to his involvement with the gang and was involved in local politics, the Vernon Bar Association and the Vernon and District Women's Centre.

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