THUNDER BAY - Additional witnesses provided more insight on the possible reasoning behind Thunder Bay Police chief, J.P. Levesque, allegedly informing mayor, Keith Hobbs, that he was the focus of an extortion investigation, calling it a courtesy and a form of risk management.
Earlier on the third day of Levesque’s trial for charges of obstruction of justice and breach of trust, acting Thunder Bay Police chief, Sylvie Hauth, testified that Levesque told her he informed Hobbs of the investigation alleging he was attempting to extort attorney, Alexander Zaitzeff, to protect her in the event the information was made public.
During the afternoon session on Wednesday, Thunder Bay city manager, Norm Gale, and Thunder Bay Police Service Board chair, Jackie Dojack took the stand.
Gale testified that in late December he was invited by Levesque to have a meeting, during which Levesque informed him that he told Hobbs about an extortion investigation after a complainant came forward to the RCMP on Dec. 8.
Gale could not recall if he was told to keep the information confidential, but he believes he likely was.
“This was a very sensitive matter,” Gale said from the stand. “The tone was very solemn and serious.”
According to Gale, he was informed in a “risk management” sort of way and that it was good he was given the information as the city manager, adding he did not consider it inappropriate.
“I appreciated knowing something like this could be coming,” he testified.
Gale also testified that Levesque would be reviewing the extortion investigation and believed it would be passed on to another law enforcement agency, most likely the Ontario Provincial Police.
Susan Kaucharik, administrative Staff Sgt. Of the criminal investigation branch with the Thunder Bay Police, was then called to testify. She explained that Det. Const. Jeff Elvish, who was leading up the investigation into Zaitzeff (and also testified on Wednesday), received a phone call from Hobbs inquiring about the possible extortion investigation by the RCMP.
On Dec. 22, Kaucharik spoke with Levesque over the phone and he told her he had informed Hobbs about the investigation after she mentioned the phone call received by Elvish.
Later, she ran into Levesque in person and he explained to her why he spoke with Hobbs during the retirement luncheon at the Thunder Bay Police headquarters.
“He said he advised Hobbs about the investigation only as a courtesy,” Kaucharik testified.
Thunder Bay Police Service Board chair, Jackie Dojack, was the last witness called by counsel for the prosecution, Jason Nicol.
Dojack testified that on Dec. 19, she met with Levesque and then deputy chief, Sylvie Hauth, where she first learned of the investigation involving Hobbs. During a phone call several days later with Levesque, she learned he informed Hobbs about the investigation.
Dojack said Levesque was concerned there could be a leak and the information would get out in the media, and he didn’t want her to be “blindsided.”
The information was not shared with the rest of the board and Dojack said it was not unusual for confidential information to be shared between the herself and Levesque.
"I think it's not unusual for a CEO, in this case, the chief of police, having that kind of relationship with the board chair," she said.
Both Dojack and Gale also spoke out in favour of Levesque’s reputation, calling his honesty and integrity stellar and beyond reproach within the community.
The trial will continue on Thursday. Levesque pleaded not guilty to charges of obstruction of justice and breach of trust.