Facts are still coming to light on the political and criminal connections of Julie Couillard, but patterns are starting to emerge. Increasingly the media and public are asking: which pattern is true? Is she a con artist or a police informant?
After reviewing the evidence, I am starting to wonder if she has been working for the mafia for the last 17 years. Bikers and mobsters are in the same business and are rivals. She sought out bikers after (and perhaps during) a relationship with a senior mafia figure. Two of her biker lovers turned police informants, which one could presume was in the interests of the mafia. Later, when her biker connections and money dried up, the mafia may have directed her to infiltrate the government. Far-fetched? Probably, and also complete speculation.
Here's what we know so far...
* In the period 1991-1993 she dated mobster Tony Volpato. In 1997 he was sentenced to six years in prison for his role in a conspiracy to import 180 kilograms of cocaine. The Star says Volpato "was widely considered the gatekeeper for late Calabrese mob boss Frank (the Big Guy) Cotroni, but also entertained close ties with Vito Rizzuto, considered the godfather of the Sicilian mafia in Canada."
* In the period 1991-1996 she dated biker Gilles Giguère, the right-hand man of loan-shark Robert Savard, a close friend of Quebec Hells Angels boss Maurice Boucher. In 1995 she was taken into custody along with Giguère but was not charged. In 1996 Savard and Giguère were charged with plotting to murder Laurette Lavallee. She was engaged to marry Giguère in 1996, but shortly before the wedding he was killed in a gangland execution. At the time of his death Giguere was facing trial for firearms and drug possession. According to The Star, Giguère became a police informant shortly before he was killed.
* In 1996 she married biker Stéphane Sirois, a member of the Hells Angels affiliate gang the Rockers. Couillard said she insisted that Sirois leave the gang; Sirois says he was forced to quit because of the gang's suspicion that she was a police informant. When their marriage broke up in 1998 he rejoined the gang; he says that ongoing suspicion of him forced him to become a police informant. He is now in the witness protection program.
* In 1998 her father was arrested for running a grow-op in his apartment. She visited his apartment twice a week and sometimes paid the rent on the apartment.
* In 2004 she started a 2-year romantic liaison with Robert Pepin, who was then facing charges for truck hijacking. A really interesting article in the Star shows Pepin to be a con artist and criminal. Deeply indebted to organized crime figures, Pepin committed suicide in May, 2007. While with Pepin, Couillard worked with him in his firm, DRP Investigation and Security Agency. The couple also founded a talent agency, Cinq Étoiles Casting. In 2005 Couillard set up her own security company called Itek Solutions globales.
* In 2004 she wrote on her driver license renewal application that she did promotional work that involved "special events such as volunteering for federal elections."
* In spring 2007 she dated Bernard Côté, a senior staffer to Public Works Minister Michael Fortier. Côté was forced to resign in June 2008 due to conflict of interest: he discussed a federal real estate deal with her that she was pitching on behalf of Groupe Kevlar Inc.
* In summer 2007 she began dating Maxime Bernier, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Bernier resigned in May 2008 when Couillard went on TV and revealed that he had left a NATO briefing book at her house. He had registered her as his official companion.
* In 2007 she took part in a Tory fundraising party for the riding of Châteauguay-Saint-Constant. She gave the riding a cheque for $1,000, which bounced.
* She said in her famous TV interview that she wanted to get into politics and had been approached by the Quebec Conservative party.
Miscellaneous facts and opinions
* From The Globe: "A former CSIS agent, Michel Juneau-Katsuya, testified that... Organized-crime groups have tried to place moles inside government institutions... and the pattern of her behaviour seemed like "a classic recruitment operation.""
* Bloc Québécois MP Serge Ménard, who is one of the top experts in the House of Commons on security issues, has said that "she represented an enormous security risk for a [cabinet] minister" and "the Hells Angels could have either blackmailed her or Mr. Bernier, or lured Mr. Bernier into a compromising situation." Menard also said that Couillard is listed in various police forces' databases of persons of interest.
* She seems to have plenty of money but it is not clear where it comes from.
* In her famous TV interview, she justified her history with bikers by saying, "I knew that [Giguère] knew people who knew bikers, but I didn't take the bikers seriously. To me they were just tough guys who rode motorcycles. The real criminals were the Mafia." A few weeks later it was revealed that she dated a mobster before she started dating bikers. I think we should disregard everything she said in that interview: she is simply not credible. But I also wonder if she was playing some subtle games: again, pure speculation, but she seems too clever by half.
* Hells Angels chief Mom Boucher told the Globe & Mail that in 1996, when Couillard started dating Giguere, he suspected she was a police informant trying to infiltrate his inner circle. His claim is corroborated by testimony in a biker trial that he had considered killing her because of his suspicions. Sirois has also said that Boucher was very suspicious of Couillard. (Note that the media remains focused on the biker angle, and has not explored the possibility that the mafia might have directed her actions.)
* In 2004, the Quebec provincial police force cleared her to obtain a licence to conduct security and investigative work. The Globe says "She used her licence to work with DRP Investigation and Security Agency, run by her boyfriend and convicted criminal Robert Pépin." Some people see her ability to gain clearance as evidence that she was a police informant. I'm not convinced: she has never been convicted of anything, but Pépin has. The real question is why the Sûreté allowed Pepin`s company to get a provincial contract to transport prisoners.