POLITICS
11/08/2011 10:36 EST | Updated 01/08/2012 05:12 EST

Navy Reassigns Worker Who Knew Ottawa Murder Victim

Flickr: blmurch

The Canadian Forces are investigating a civilian employee of the navy after details surfaced about his alleged friendship with a convicted drug dealer who had ties to the Hells Angels.

Until Monday, Joey Medaglia worked for the commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison. Medaglia handled correspondence, and had clearance to handle secret files, a navy spokesman said Monday.

Concerns emerged after a friend of Medaglia's was shot to death at an Ottawa shopping mall last month. That man, Graham Thomas, 35, was a convicted drug dealer believed to have had ties to the Hells Angels and to organized crime in Montreal. His driver, Jason Chapman, 31, was also killed in the shooting at the Gloucester Centre.

"[Medaglia] was described as a close friend of the victim," Cmdr. Hubert Genest, the navy's director of communications, told CBC News in Ottawa. "He missed time at work because of that relationship. "

As a result, the military has reassigned Medaglia to a job that doesn't require special security clearance.

"Joey takes care of sensitive information, so it was deemed prudent that we made sure no chance of having anything bad happening," Genest said.

"It is unfortunate, but part of procedures. He is innocent until proven otherwise. He returned to work today and was informed of the administrative action taken."

Genest described Medaglia as a hard worker and good-natured. He said he has been working for the commander since 2009.

The day after murder, he said, Medaglia asked for leave to deal with personal issues. People started to talk in the office, and the chief of staff requested an investigation, Genest said.

"Military police advised us to take this seriously and investigate further," he said.