THUNDER BAY - Following the revelation that Thunder Bay Police chief, J.P. Levesque, allegedly informed Thunder Bay mayor, Keith Hobbs, that he was the focus of an extortion investigation, acting police chief, Sylvie Hauth, provided some insight as to why.
“To protect me,” Hauth said.
Hauth was called to testify during Day 3 of the trial against Levesque for charges of obstructing justice and breach of trust.
During her testimony Wednesday morning, Hauth was asked by counsel for the prosecution, Jason Nicol, to recount a brief exchange she had with Levesque in late January regarding him telling Hobbs about an investigation being conducted by the Ontario Provincial Police alleging he was attempting to extort Thunder Bay lawyer, Alexander Zaitzeff, following a complainant coming forward.
Hauth was first informed that Levesque spoke with Hobbs shortly after the meeting between the two took place during a retirement luncheon at the Thunder Bay Police Service headquarters in December. Hauth said Levesque told her about it in his office that same day.
“I just said OK and left,” Hauth testified.
Later in January, after Hauth officially took on her new duties as deputy chief and Levesque returned from vacation, she said Levesque told her why he allegedly informed Hobbs of the investigation.
“He knew he would be away for two weeks and I was starting a new position and he had concerns this could become public,” she said. “I would be dealing with this by myself.”
During cross-examination by Levesque's attorney, Frederick Schumann, Hauth testified that she was aware Levesque also informed city manager, Norm Gale of the situation involving Hobbs. Hauth knew that Levesque had also spoke with Thunder Bay Police Service Board chair, Jackie Dojack, and did not report it to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.
Following Hauth's testimony, Nicol called acting deputy chief, Don Lewis to the stand. During his testimony, Lewis testified that he was aware information had been shared with Hobbs regarding the investigation but he did not recall from where he heard the information.
He also revealed that on Jan. 3, 2017, he met with Hobbs and his wife, Marissa Hobbs at the Thunder Bay Police headquarters, where they brought up the extortion allegations.
"He [Hobbs] was insistent on the Thunder Bay Police investigating the allegations," Lewis testified.
Lewis added that he told Hobbs that the Thunder Bay Police could not investigate the allegations.
During cross-examination by Brian Gover, representing Levesque, Lewis said he understood Levesque allegedly informed Hobbs of the investigation as a way of protecting Hauth.
"He didn't want the issue to erupt while he was gone?" Gover asked Lewis.
"Yes," Lewis said.
Gover then asked if Lewis believed this was a reasonable concern, however, the question was objected to by Nicol because it was based on opinion and not evidence and Regional Senior Justice, Bonnie Warkentin, agreed and the question was withdrawn.
Lewis was then asked if he believed, based on Levesque's character, if either of the charges against Levesque were consistent with his character. The question was again objected to by Nicol, arguing again that it was based on the witnesses' opinion. Warkentin said allowed the question to go ahead, but advised both attorneys that they may bring forth submissions to determine if the response is admissible.
Lewis responded to the question by saying no, it was not consistent with Levesque's character to commit these crimes, before earlier describing Levesque as: "honest, trustworthy, and compassionate."
Thunder Bay city manager, Norm Gale is expected to take the stand Wednesday afternoon.