THUNDER BAY — Two RCMP officers said they were stunned when they heard Thunder Bay Police Chief, J.P. Levesque, say he disclosed information to Thunder Bay mayor, Keith Hobbs, about an ongoing investigation of which he was the focus.
During the afternoon session on day one of Levesque’s trial for charges of obstructing justice and breach of trust, counsel for the prosecution, Jason Nicol, called RCMP const. Daryl Waruk and RCMP Cpl. Ron Miller to testify.
Waruk was one of three RCMP officers who first met with Craig Loverin at a local car wash, including Loverin's longtime friend, Mike Rozic. Loverin told the officers about interactions he had with Hobbs regarding family friend and former lawyer, Alexander Zaitzeff.
Loverin said during his testimony in the morning that Hobbs requested to meet with him in a parking lot late at night to give him a memory stick that contained videos showing Zaitzeff making profane comments to then partner, Mary Voss. Loverin said he believed Hobbs wanted him to help persuade Zaitzeff to purchase a house for Voss.
Zaitzeff was arrested Nov. 21, 2016 and charged with several counts of sexual assault. According to Waruk’s testimony, he received several phone calls from Hobbs on Nov. 23, stating he had aided the police in the arrest of the former Thunder Bay lawyer.
Waruk continued that Hobbs called again about a possible investigation targeting him as a result of a complainant coming forward and if that complainant was Loverin. Waruk, along with Cpl. Ron Miller, who was leading the investigation into the complaint, met with Staff Sgt. Norm Roy on Dec. 22 to discuss how Hobbs obtained that information.
Levesque was contacted by phone during that meeting. According to Miller and Waruk, Levesque explained that during a retirement party for deputy chief Andy Hay, he took Hobbs aside and told him the Ontario Provincial Police are investigating a statement made by a complainant without giving a name.
“I was quite shocked,” Waruk said. “I didn’t expect someone to divulge that he [Hobbs] is a target of an investigation.”
Miller also testified regarding the meeting and phone call. During cross-examination by Brian Gover, who is representing Levesque along with Fredrick Schumann, Miller added that Levesque made no attempt to conceal this information and was quite open with it, but it still came as a shock.
“I didn’t know what to say,” Miller said. “There was nothing to say. For 15 to 20 seconds we all just looked at each other. Did Levesque tell Hobbs about this investigation?”
The RCMP met with members of the Thunder Bay Police, including Levesque, earlier in the month on Dec. 14 to discuss the investigation into Hobbs and suggested another law enforcement agency take it over. Levesque agreed another organization, possibly the OPP, should head up the investigation.
Following the meeting on Dec. 22, the RCMP decided to refer the investigation directly to the OPP.
Levesque's trial will resume on Tuesday, with 10 witnesses expected to be called this week.
Levesque was first charged in May of this year with obstructing justice and breach of trust. Hobbs, along with wife, Marissa Hobbs, are facing charges of extortion and obstruction of justice, and Mary Voss, is also facing a charge of extortion. They first charged in July.