The Cortellazzi Consortium

October 24, 2008

My, What Big Teeth You Have Grandma

It appears that Messrs. Djokich & De Angelis, subjects of our last blog item have drawn the attention of the Canadian print media.

They have become front page material for Canada’s National Post  

The author of the news item is journalist Adrian Humphreys and his area of expertise is organized crime.

Mr. Humphreys knows a thing or two about organized crime in Canada having written extensively on the subject, his latest work concerns the rise of the Montreal Mafia under Vito Rizzuto 

Mr. Humphrey’s report on Messrs. Djokich & De Angelis combined with the knowledge of Mr. Humphreys area of expertise makes for a very interesting and revealing read :

Irate investors accused of hiring U. S. ‘hit man’

Adrian Humphreys,  National Post 

Published: Friday, October 24, 2008

Two Canadian businessmen have been arrested in the United States, accused of hiring a hit man to snatch a Calgary lawyer from his tropical island estate and kill him in an elaborate plot to recover millions of dollars lost in a flimsy investment.

The tale of investor revenge that was allegedly taken to a dreadful extreme includes a severed pinkie finger, a hit list of businessmen involved in half a dozen Canadian companies, and an undercover U. S. law enforcement agent posing as a hit man for hire.

“It’s very distressing,” said Richard DeVries, a lawyer from Calgary now living in the Bahamas who was the intended victim of the alleged plot.

“I am floored by it. Who would want to kill me?” he said when reached by the National Post.

According to U. S. authorities, at least two men: Nicholas Djokich, 57, of Calgary, and Eginardo De Angelis, 72, of Montreal.

They have been charged in Boston with conspiring to kidnap for the purpose of extorting money and a murder conspiracy.

The plot started on July 3 when two men went shopping for a hit man, authorities say.

In an office at Reber America Inc. in Montreal — where Mr. De Angelis worked selling furniture to hotels — someone interested in the hit met the accused men, according to U. S. allegations filed in court.

Mr. Djokich allegedly said the target was Mr. DeVries. He said Mr. DeVries, who sits on the boards of several private and publicly traded companies, was partially responsible for a loss of about US$175-million in investments, according to a sworn affidavit by Special Agent Derek Dunn of U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Mr. Djokich gave the man a photo of Mr. DeVries, his home address in the Bahamas and documents that he said supported his claim to the money.

He asked the man to go to the Bahamas, force Mr. DeVries to wire as much of the money as possible back to him and then maybe kill him, according to Agent Dunn’s affidavit. Unknown to any of the Canadians, the man was a police informant.

After contacting U. S. authorities, the informant again met the men at Reber. There, Mr. Djokich played him a tape of a conversation purportedly between Mr. Djokich and Mr. DeVries.

In the conversation, Mr. DeVries accused Mr. Djokich of kidnapping his partner, Calgary businessman William Lenz.

After playing the tape, Mr. Djokich told the man that he had, in fact, kidnapped Mr. Lenz and said they cut off a finger to make their point, according to Agent Dunn.

Sources confirm that Mr. Lenz was indeed kidnapped in Calgary on June 23, 2006, hooded and threatened to turn over money while his pinkie was severed. The digit was later surgically reattached and no charges were ever laid.

During the ordeal, Mr. Lenz apparently tried to wire US$15-million to his tormenters, but because the bank required him to appear in person, the money was not collected. Mr. Lenz could not be reached for comment.

At the Reber meeting, the informant told the two men (ICE), authorities allege.

Mr. Djokich railed against Messrs. DeVries and Lenz.

The financial dispute is a complicated one involving an investment made through Astral Enterprises Inc. to GSF Ltd. based on a contract involving a third company named Koan Investment Corp., according to documents filed in court.

The deal apparently ran satisfactorily for some years, with wire transfers from GSF to Koan from September, 1998, to June, 2001, before running afoul.

The ICE undercover agent was then told that taking care of Mr. DeVries was only the beginning. Others, as many as five men in several countries, were the next targets of the angry investors, according to the affidavit.

“One at a time,” the agent said, according to a transcript of a recording of the meeting. The “hit man” would need to watch Mr. DeVries in the Bahamas for several days to learn his routine and would need some money to do it, the agent said.

“About 10 grand, up front, non-reimbursable, to go down and check out everything. If it works, that becomes part of the overall price,” the agent said.

“I’m thinking maybe a boat, get a boat out of the [Florida] Keys, just go east and west, you know, the Coast Guard is only looking for boats going north and south, you know, the drug runners.”

Mr. Djokich seemed keen, allegedly saying: “If he refuses and everything, f—, he’s going to the fish. It’s as simple as that.”

The undercover agent replied: “All right, ’cause at the end of the day, you make the call…. You want me to throw him overboard, I’ll throw him overboard. You want me to dust him off and put him back on the pier, I’ll do that too…. I’m like a house painter. You tell me what colour you want to paint the house.”

The men then communicated by e-mail for two weeks, authorities claim.

On Aug. 11, four men met with the undercover agent in a Vermont Starbucks. They arrived in a Buick with a Quebec licence plate. One of them was Mr. De Angelis, authorities alleged.

The agent was given a white plastic bag stuffed with US$10,000 in U. S. currency. The other men have not been charged.

This month, the agent told the two accused men that the plot was finalized, with the kidnapping ready to go when Mr. DeVries visited Florida, authorities say. At a final meeting with Mr. Djokich, the agent asked if there had been a decision on whether to kill Mr. DeVries.

“Angelo wants him wiped out,” Mr. Djokich allegedly said, using Mr. De Angelis’ nickname. They agreed to US$40,000 more as the fee, on top of the US$10,000 front money.

Mr. Djokich was arrested on Saturday in Los Angeles after flying from Calgary on a business trip.

Mr. De Angelis was arrested on Monday in Atlantic City, N. J., after arriving on a tour bus from Montreal, apparently on a pleasure trip.

Mr. DeVries said anger towards him is misplaced.

“I was simply acting as a lawyer. I received trust funds. I dispersed the trust funds and because I [moved] to the Bahamas, they reached the conclusion I must have stolen the money,” he told the Post, adding there was nowhere near US$175-million involved.

“I was simply acting as a lawyer, handling trust funds. That’s all I did. I was acting on behalf of a client…. The money was lost in a bad investment.”

The arrests bring him comfort.

“I applaud the efforts of police, believe me,” he said.

Michel Coretti, a spokesman for Montreal’s Reber America, said he knows nothing of the alleged plot, but said Mr. De Angelis is a good man and will be found not guilty.

Neither of the accused men has yet secured a lawyer to represent them in the case.  

Andrea Cortellazzi (a convicted fraudster) and his associates Jean Michel de Montigny (who has interesting friends of his own) , Serge Ollu (also a convicted fraudster) declared to have severed ties with Mr. Djokich (Trimax Capital Group) in a May 2007  U Mining (formerly Globex Inc.) press release, one of the numerous press releases issued by U Mining, M45 Mining and He-5 Resources later demonstrated to be false.   

Mr. Humphreys news report paints a very different portrait of Mr. Djokich’s self promoting biography which he provided to adorn the now defunct Trimax Capital Group website:   

“Nicholas Djokich, a successful businessman, has a career spanning over 30 years in commodities trading where he has developed a unique talent in the capital markets that has assisted him in achieving his goals. Mr. Djokich brings to the Trimax Capital Group extensive experience in the capital markets, valuable contacts, innovative ideas and leadership that is all instrumental to the achievement of the corporation’s vision and goals. Mr. Djokich has founded a number of trading companies that have proven to be beneficial to the agriculture industry in Alberta and Quebec. Together with a vast knowledge of the resource sector, and an extensive financial and technological background, Mr. Djokich is poised to lead Trimax Capital Group to success.”

Mr. Djokich’s alledged victim declared to Mr. Humphreys of the National Post this action was completely unexpected: “I am floored by it. Who would want to kill me?”  

My, What Big Teeth You Have Grandma.

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