Greg Fertuck’s interactions with undercover police were built on a foundation of lies, which produced a series of falsehoods from the Mr. Big sting target, according to a lawyer for the accused.
Defence lawyer Mike Nolin made the statements Wednesday during cross-examination of the cover person for the RCMP’s undercover operation, known as Project Fisten. Media cannot identify the witness due to a publication ban.
The witness disagreed with Nolin when the lawyer suggested police orchestrated a “predator-prey” relationship to get Fertuck to tell undercover police he killed his estranged wife Sheree Fertuck on Dec. 7, 2015.
The undercover officer acknowledged that police made misrepresentations in an attempt to get an admission of guilt from Fertuck.
“There are a lot of lies told throughout the operation,” the witness said.
The defence pointed to at least four occasions where Fertuck lied to undercover officers, who he thought were his coworkers in a criminal organization.
In one case, Fertuck said someone tried robbing him in Langley, B.C., and in response, he killed the robber. He claimed to place the body in a dumpster. However, police reviewed security video and reached a different conclusion.
“It’s my belief that nothing like that had occurred,” the witness said.
On June 21, 2019, the accused said he killed someone else – Sheree. He made the admission to an undercover officer posing as a crime boss in the culmination of a nearly year-long operation. Days later, police charged him with first-degree murder and offering an indignity to a body.
Fertuck was the target of 130 designed interactions, or “scenarios,” with undercover police. The orchestrated events happened in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
Nolin asked the officer about an oft-cited case where a Mr. Big sting led a suspect to admit to a crime he did not commit.
“I am aware of the fact that there have been wrongful convictions using this technique,” the witness said.
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Court has heard Greg Fertuck dealt with memory issues following a head injury on Jan. 1, 2019. He slipped on a patch of ice, hit his head and suffered multiple hematomas.
The injury meant the sting ended up being nearly twice as long as the cover person initially expected, according to his testimony. Officers had to re-introduce people and concepts about the criminal organization.
The cover person testified Wednesday that there were people and situations Fertuck didn’t remember at all.
The head injury came five months into Fertuck’s employment in an RCMP-crafted, fake business. He was given the choice between working in the “legal side” of the operation, hauling vehicles, or the “criminal side,” transporting contraband like false passports and illegal cigarettes.
“There was really no way for Greg Fertuck not to break the law in participating in this fictitious organization,” Nolin suggested, saying even the legal operation was akin to money laundering.
“There was no legitimate business, is what I’m saying.”
The witness disagreed, stating he didn’t believe Fertuck would have committed an offence on the legitimate side of the business. However, Fertuck knowingly chose the criminal side.
The testimony, and all of the Crown’s evidence over the last week, has been entered in a series of voir dire hearings. A voir dire is essentially a trial within a trial to determine what is admissible.
Justice Richard Danyliuk has yet to rule on whether any of the evidence to date is admissible. The judge-alone trial is scheduled for eight weeks.
On Wednesday, the court also received a glimpse at the financial lengths the RCMP was willing to go to in order to complete the sting. The operation was budgeted at nearly $534,000, but ultimately had a price tag of more than $679,000.
The project finished over budget primarily due to at least $153,000 in unanticipated overtime for investigators.
The budget was “fairly typical,” but the cover person said the Fertuck operation “was more expensive due to the significant time involved.”
The witness testified Tuesday that he initially thought the sting would last five to six months. Fertuck’s head injury extended the operation to June 2019.