Paul Cherry, Montreal Gazette
The claims made by Jean-François Emard, a man who tried to revive the Rock Machine biker gang in Quebec, are described in a written summary of a decision made by the Parole Board of Canada on Thursday. The board decided to lift the suspension of Emard’s day parole, which had been granted in May 2019 based on information supplied by the SQ. The suspension was imposed just days after Emard was granted day parole because a halfway house was unwilling to assume the risk of having Emard as a resident.
During his hearing on Thursday, Emard told the parole board he believes the SQ lied about the threats because he is currently suing the provincial police over how one of its officers, Bruno Landry, assaulted him in a detention cell, (Landry received a 60-day suspension). According to court records, the lawsuit was filed in 2017 and has yet to be settled. Emard is seeking $475,000 from Landry, the SQ and Quebec’s attorney general.
Emard is serving a 33-month sentence he received in March 2018 after he was convicted of having possessed a firearm and drugs while parading around in Rock Machine gang colours. The sentence includes a 30-month sentence he received later, on May 2, 2018, after he was found guilty of having committed an indecent act by having sex on the hood of a car parked on the side of a public roadway.
The Rock Machine started out in Montreal in the early 1990s. The group became part of an alliance of criminal organizations that fought the Hells Angels over drug trafficking turf all over Quebec. The conflict, which became known as Quebec’s biker gang war, stretched from 1994 to 2002. The people who remained in the Rock Machine near the end of the war either defected to the Hells Angels or joined an American-based gang called the Bandidos. The Rock Machine name appeared to disappear after 2002 when, in 2014, Emard suddenly emerged and told reporters he was reviving the gang.
Now, the gang’s name appears to have taken on a life of its own. A group claiming to be the Rock Machine Motorcycle Club on Facebook appears to have established chapters in 10 countries. But Emard appears to want to have no part in it. He has admitted in the past that he received threats from the Hells Angels but, he claims, those days are over. He repeated to the parole board on Thursday that he is no longer associated with the Rock Machine.
“You have explained that the Sûreté du Québec regularly contacts Correctional Service Canada to report threats that have been made toward you. You have drawn a parallel with that situation and how you are currently suing that police force,” the author of the summary wrote. “You argue that you are doing all that you can to become a person who respects the law. During the hearing you said you are not being threatened and that you have no reason to fear for your safety or that of your entourage.”
Despite Emard’s claims, his lawyer made a special request that his entire parole hearing be held as a closed-door hearing. It is was an extraordinary request which barred any media from attending. Under normal circumstances, the parole board agrees with such requests but only bars media from hearing an offender’s release plan, which could involve details like the name of a halfway house the person will be heading to. It appears the parole board granted the request while stating that “the right to have a fair hearing where you can express yourself without constraint or fear for your life is counterweighted by the public’s right to information.”
The parole board agreed to lift the suspension of Emard’s day parole, in part, because he has already qualified for a statutory release by having served two-thirds of his sentence. The board imposed a long series of conditions on the release, including a curfew and the requirement that Emard provide proof to his parole officer that he either has a job, is studying or performing volunteer work until his sentence expires.