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Friday, 20 April 2012

Alleged gang leader will go on trial

16:17 |

Alleged gang leader Richard Goodridge covers his face as he exits a hearing at the Montreal courthouse on Wednesday, April 18, 2012.

Alleged gang leader Richard Goodridge covers his face as he exits a hearing at the Montreal courthouse on Wednesday, April 18, 2012.

Photograph by: Allen McInnis, THE GAZETTE

 An alleged street gang leader who was at the centre of an investigation that shut the doors of a downtown strip club has been ordered to go on trial on charges he used a firearm to threaten a former employee.

After hearing evidence during a preliminary inquiry at the Montreal courthouse Wednesday morning, Quebec Court Judge Manon Ouimet determined there was enough evidence to have Richard Goodridge, 43, tried on three counts. The charges stem from an incident where Konstantinos Gantias, a man who used to work as a deejay at Club Temptation, the former strip club on Ste. Catherine St. W., alleges Goodridge assaulted him and threatened to kill him on Oct. 6, 2010.

The strip club was closed by the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux in April 2010 on a request from the Montreal police. Investigators who probe the city’s street gangs had evidence that suggested people loyal to Ducarme Joseph, a reputed street gang leader, were preparing an “imminent reply” to an attempt to murder Joseph on March 18, 2010. Gunmen fired several shots inside Joseph’s Flawnego clothing boutique in Old Montreal. Joseph survived the shooting but two of his associates died in a hail of gunfire.

Two men, including one believed to have ties to Goodridge, have since been arrested and charged with the double murder and a third is still being sought. Goodridge was never charged with the two murders but, during hearings before the Régie des alcools, investigators testified that a rivalry between Goodridge and Joseph, which dated back to 2004, was heating up. Part of the investigation included the seizure of a machine gun and grenade launcher.

Goodridge and Joseph were part of a street gang based in northern Montreal called the 67s but had a falling out in 2004. Police investigators feared Goodridge would be shot inside Club Temptation because it appeared to them that he controlled it and was frequently seen there hosting street gang members. One investigator testified that sources told police Goodridge was believed to be a silent partner in the club with members of the Mafia in Montreal.

The club’s liquor permit was temporarily revoked in 2010 and the Régie decided to permanently revoke the permit in 2011.

Weeks after Club Temptation’s door were shut in 2010, someone broke in and stole a variety of items.

During the preliminary inquiry, Gantias testified that Goodridge suspected he had stolen the items from him. He said Goodridge summoned him to a gym on Ste. Catherine St. W. under the pretence that he had a new job for him. But, Gantias said during the hearing, when he arrived he was forced inside the gym’s office and Goodridge confronted him.

“He said that apparently a lot of people were saying that it was me who stole from his club and he wasn’t happy about that,” Gantias said.

“After that I said ‘I’m sorry but I’m going to leave.’ These things usually don’t end well.”

Gantias also said that at some point Goodridge told him “You’re not leaving here alive. You’re leaving in a body bag.” He also alleged that at one point Goodridge pulled out a firearm and struck him on the jaw and took an expensive cellphone from him.

During cross-examination, Goodridge’s lawyer, Stéphane Beaudin, brought up a few contradictions between statements Gantias gave to police and his testimony. The most glaring is that Gantias initially alleged that Goodridge chased him, with a gun in hand, after he bolted from the gym while Goodridge made a phone call. Gantias admitted on Wednesday that he wasn’t sure if Goodridge actually pursued him outside the gym.

Goodridge entered a not-guilty plea to all three of the charges he faces and decided to be tried before a judge alone. The next date in the case, a formality hearing, has been set for May 15.

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