Investigators are probing a third suspected arson in the past three years at a home linked to the founder of the London Hells Angels chapter.
London police and the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office are investigating a blaze that broke out Sunday around 3:40 a.m. at 629-631 King St., a duplex where dancers at the nearby Beef Baron strip club stay.
Property records show the two-storey house is owned by Salvatrice and Domenico Barletta. The records list the owner’s mailing address as 624 King St., the address of the Beef Baron, which is operated by Vincent Barletta, the brother of alleged Hells Angels member Robert Barletta.
Salvatrice Barletta, who is believed to be the mother of Vincent and Robert, also owned a Blue Mountains vacation property that was destroyed in a suspected arson more than two years ago.
The Jan. 5, 2018, fire in Thornbury, a small town on Georgian Bay northwest of Collingwood, prompted police to launch Operation Hobart, an investigation into an alleged multimillion-dollar gambling operation that police contend was run by members of the Hells Angels and an alleged Toronto crime family.
Robert Barletta is one of 28 people charged with bookmaking, tax evasion and weapons offences after a December police sweep that led to the seizure of guns, cash, vehicles and several high-end houses.
Days after Barletta, 50, was arrested aboard an airplane at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Dec. 13, 2019, a Commissioners Road home owned by Habiba Kajan, 43, who is also charged in Operation Hobart, was gutted in a suspected arson. Sources have linked her to Barletta.
Nobody has been charged in either of the blazes, both of which remain under investigation.
Barletta previously owned Flesh Gordon’s strip club on Dundas Street before the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario yanked his liquor licence in 2014 because of his outlaw motorcycle gang ties. The east-end strip club was set on fire in 2012 allegedly during a battle between the Hells Angels and a rival street gang. No charges were laid in the fire.
Police and investigators from the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office remained on the scene of the King Street fire Monday.
“We are here because it’s deemed a suspicious fire. We need to go through the environment to determine what exactly happened,” said Andrea Gaynor, an Ontario Fire Marshal investigator.
“It’s our job to determine where the fire originated and what caused it.”
Nobody was hurt in the blaze that heavily damaged one side of the duplex, Gaynor said, adding a damage estimate wasn’t immediately available.
“No one was injured. There were occupants, but they self-evacuated,” she said.
A woman who identified herself as a dancer at the Beef Baron said she lives at the burned house. She could be seen asking police when she would be allowed back inside to retrieve belongings.