POLITICS

Former Montreal cop will likely seek bail after preliminary hearing

01/08/2014 12:08 EST | Updated 03/10/2014 05:59 EDT
MONTREAL - A retired Montreal police detective accused of selling sensitive police information to criminal biker gang members will ''very likely'' seek bail after his preliminary hearing, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Benoit Roberge, 50, formally renounced his right to a bail hearing pending the outcome of legal proceedings over the next few months.

"We prefer to present the bail hearing on the basis of evidence that has been tested through the preliminary hearing," lawyer Richard Perras said outside the courtroom.

"Sometimes there's a big difference between what is supposed to come out in evidence and what comes out in evidence."

Roberge, once a high-profile investigator and biker expert, is facing one charge of obstructing justice, one of breach of trust and two related to gangsterism.

He is accused of selling sensitive operational information in exchange for cash. The alleged offences occurred over a roughly three-year period between 2010 and last fall.

The case is set to return on Jan. 23 before Quebec court Judge Robert Marchi, who will eventually preside over the preliminary hearing.

A motion relating to the unsealing of certain documents linked to the case will also be debated. Roberge is not obliged to appear on that day.

Marchi ordered Roberge to remain behind bars until a judge decides otherwise or until the end of the criminal proceedings.

Roberge has been detained in a special wing in a detention centre since his arrest in October.

Perras said it's a difficult situation because law-enforcement officers are far more exposed, particularly when they have helped convict people who are incarcerated in the same facility.

"But under the circumstances, he's keeping up," the lawyer said.

Perras said the process of disclosure is "evolving" with many documents being redacted given the sensitive nature of the material. The lawyer said he'll need to go before a higher court to argue for complete documents.

Marchi agreed Wednesday to return certain seized items to Roberge and his family, including computers that were primarily for family as well as the accused's wallet.

Roberge's police badge was not returned.

Roberge's case has been subject to lengthy delays, mainly because he has had five defence lawyers, with some having to recuse themselves because of a possible conflict of interest.

Perras is the first lawyer to represent Roberge at multiple hearings.

Roberge was well known as an expert witness and his wife is a Crown prosecutor specialized in organized crime.

Because of his spouse's career and Roberge's past role as an officer who regularly dealt with Montreal-area prosecutors, a Crown prosecutor from Quebec City is handling the case.

Roberge retired in August and had been working for Revenu Quebec, the province's tax collection agency, as part of an intelligence-gathering unit. He was subsequently fired from that post following his arrest.

Meanwhile, Roberge's wife, Nancy Potvin, remains on leave.

The prosecutors' office says she has co-operated with the police, knew nothing of the allegations against him and is not implicated in his case.

"She's not suspended, but she's not at work," said spokesman Jean-Pascal Boucher.