Street gang leader pleads guilty; lawyer attacked
MONTREAL - The trial of one of Montreal's most powerful street gang leaders ended with a guilty plea Wednesday, a day after his lawyer was attacked in his home.
Emmanuel Zephir, 38, pleaded guilty to reduced charges in connection with his involvement in a drug empire on behalf of the Hells Angels. Zephir faces a sentence hearing on May 2.
Other members of the gang pleaded guilty Wednesday, including Zephir's brother Ismael, who was charged with drug dealing and money laundering. He received a one-day prison term after spending two years in jail awaiting trial.
"He spent almost two years in detention and that counts as double, as the previous law stated. It's not the case anymore, but it's almost fours years in jail," said prosecutor Gaston Gramajo.
The case began two years ago with raids throughout Quebec and Ontario targeted street gang leaders accused of selling millions of dollars worth of drugs every month.
Zephir's lawyer attacked
Meantime, Zephir's lawyer is in critical but stable condition after being attacked in his home in Rivière-des-Prairies.
Joseph La Leggia, 52, has been involved in several high-profile criminal cases in the city.
Montreal police say they received a call around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday after an alarm was set off in the home on Louis Dessaulles Ave., near Marcel Gélinas St..
Police say it appears La Leggia was assaulted as he got out of his car and set off the alarm as he scrambled inside.
The door was open when police arrived.
La Leggia suffered serious head injuries and has been transported to hospital.
Investigators are now trying to establish a link between his cases.
Attorneys at the courthouse said they were very surprised by the incident.
"If you spoke to everyone in court… justices, prosecutors, the defence attorneys, everyone appreciates Mr. La Leggia and everybody is shocked by what happened," said defence lawyer Philippe Legault.