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Friday, 25 March 2011

man who controlled a café in Rivière des Prairies until it was shut down last year because the police felt it posed too high a risk to public safety insisted he does not do business with street gangs.

23:57 |

A man who controlled a café in Rivière des Prairies until it was shut down last year because the police felt it posed too high a risk to public safety insisted he does not do business with street gangs.

"No one sells drugs for me, because I don't sell drugs," Vincenzo Padula said Wednesday during the second day of a hearing before the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux.

Padula was addressing the most serious allegation among many levelled at him and the café. They were made by unnamed police informants who alleged last year that the Café Bar Ferrari became the target of a series of increasingly violent incidents because Padula refused to pay members of a street gang who had sold drugs for him.

Padula has denied every allegation made during the hearing. But the two liquor board members presiding over the hearing - Michel Gougeon and Daniel Lord - noticed contradictions in his testimony. At first, Padula claimed his only knowledge of street gangs came through what he learned from the news. Later on, his testimony changed and he said street gangs are "a problem everywhere in Rivière des Prairies" and recounted stories of people he knew personally who had run-ins with gangs.

When asked to read a police report prepared for the hearing, Padula repeated several times that he didn't know where the allegations contained in it could have come from.

"This makes no sense to me," he said while reading the document. "Someone saying that you can get large quantities of cocaine at Ferrari. This makes no sense."

Gougeon noted Padula constantly referred to the café on André Ampère Ave., which was closed in June on a request from the Montreal police, as "my bar" even though his mother, Caterina, is officially the owner. Padula called it a natural reference because he put in more than 60 hours a week at the café before it was closed. The Padulas are seeking to have it reopened even though, Padula said Wednesday, he plans to move it as soon as possible because of the street gang problem.

Padula said he ran a clean establishment and no drugs were sold there. He said a brother, who has a criminal record with convictions for serious crimes, "had no involvement with the bar."

According to police, the same brother was seen with a member of the Bo-Gars street gang inside the café days before its doors were shut.

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