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Thunder Bay police chief's trial opens in court

Several witnesses take the stand on the first day of the trial against J.P. Levesque, detailing exchanges with Mayor Keith Hobbs and lawyer Alexander Zaitzeff
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Levesque Court

THUNDER BAY - The trial against Thunder Bay Police Service chief, J.P. Levesque got underway in a Thunder Bay court on Monday, with several witnesses taking the stand this morning.

According to the counsel for the prosecution, Jason Nicol, several witnesses from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Thunder Bay Police, and civilians will be called to the stand.

First called by the prosecution was Craig Loverin, a reserve member of the Canadian Forces, and family friend of former Thunder Bay attorney, Alexander Zaitzeff. While on the stand, Loverin detailed his relationship with Zaifzeff, as well as several encounters with Thunder Bay mayor Keith Hobbs.

Loverin said on the night of Nov. 17, 2016, he met with Hobbs in the parking lot of the Metro store on River Street at the request of Hobbs late at night. Hobbs wanted to give him a memory stick that contained several videos of Zaifzeff, including one in which he is heard making profane remarks to his then partner, Mary Voss, and her daughter from the other side of a door.

“I was concerned,” Loverin said. “Concerned about what I was getting myself into.”

Loverin believes because he was close with Zaitzeff, that Hobbs and his wife, Marissa Hobbs, wanted him to help persuade Zaitzeff to purchase a house for Voss.

“They knew I was very close to him and wanted me to talk to him and persuade him,” Loverin said.

Zaitzeff was arrested later that month and charged with various sexual offences. According to Loverin, on Dec. 8 he spoke with members of the RCMP, including a childhood friend, Mike Rozic, at the car wash where he worked.

“I had a lot of weight on my shoulders,” he said.

Following a discussion with the RCMP officers, Loverin was asked to come into the local RCMP detachment and give a recorded statement under oath.

Loverin would see Hobbs again on Jan. 26 during the reopening of the Veteran’s Affairs office in Thunder Bay, during which Hobbs told him he was prepared to take a polygraph test, referring to remarks Loverin made to police about Hobbs. In February, Loverin received a letter from a law firm on behalf of Hobbs stating that he would be sued for slander based on what he told police.

Two RCMP officers who met with Loverin at the car wash also took the stand, including longtime friend of Loverin, Mike Rozic, David Leonard and Darrell Waruk.

“We realized we had something that needed to be looked at further,” Rozic said from the stand, referring to the investigation being handed off to Cpl. Miller of the RCMP following Loverin's statement.

Const. Darrell Waruk is expected to take the stand Monday afternoon.

Levesque was charged by the OPP in May of this year, following a five-month investigation. According to court records, the charges are based on allegations that he disclosed confidential information related to Thunder Bay mayor Keith Hobbs last December.