A Saskatoon courtroom viewed a series of videos Thursday, beginning with the crime boss telling undercover operators that he extended an offer to “clean up” a “situation” the now 68-year-old had.
The conversation took place inside a suite of the James Hotel in downtown Saskatoon on June 21, 2019. It occurred near the end of what police call a “major crime technique” better known as a Mr. Big sting.
Police designed the operation to make it look like police attention was intensifying on Fertuck three-and-a-half years after his estranged wife went missing.
“Time is of the essence,” the boss told his employees.
The video shows Fertuck and men he thought were his coworkers walking down a hallway toward an elevator.
“We’re here to help you,” one of the members assured Fertuck.
Outside the hotel, Fertuck and undercover police made small talk about a jazz festival, laughed and made crude comments about women. The video shows Fertuck wearing a white collared shirt and baseball cap.
At one point, the accused appeared to look directly into the hidden camera, but didn’t say anything.
They waited for an undercover officer who was identified as a skilled “clean-up” guy.
“We’re all family. No one can do it on their own. We need each other,” Fertuck’s supervisor told him.
Later that day, Fertuck drove officers to the gravel pit where he said he shot and killed Sheree on Dec. 7, 2015. The pit is located east of Kenaston, which is about 85 kilometres south of Saskatoon.
Conversations captured on the video are virtually inaudible due in part to the sound of feet walking on gravel.
After a few minutes, they get back into a vehicle and drive to a wooded area. Court has previously heard that Fertuck and officers spent days searching for Sheree’s body to no avail.
Her remains and the rifle her estranged husband allegedly used to shoot her have never been found.
The trial hasn’t viewed the video of Fertuck’s admission to undercover police, but is expected to do so at a later date. The crime boss is also scheduled to testify.
Fertuck has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and offering an indignity to a body.
‘I know nothing, I see nothing’
The trial also heard audio recordings Thursday, including one taken on Oct. 16, 2018 — the 19th of roughly 130 orchestrated interactions between Fertuck and undercover police.
It’s also the date Fertuck’s supervisor told him about “both sides of the house”: a legal vehicle-hauling operation and a more lucrative, illegal business moving contraband.
When Fertuck signed himself up to work the crime side, he repeated a catchphrase from a 1960s sitcom at least eight times.
The words were uttered by Sgt. Schultz of Hogan’s Heroes and articulated how Fertuck, now 68, felt about having a role in a vast illegal operation.
“I know nothing, I see nothing,” Fertuck said over the course of a 20-minute drive with his supervisor.
Seated in the prisoner’s box at Saskatoon’s Court of Queen’s Bench, Fertuck was visibly chuckling at the remark as court heard an audio recording of the exchange.
‘I’m a bad boy’
Also known as the “bump operator” in an undercover project, the supervisor was responsible for building rapport and bringing the suspect into the organization.
The witness and Crown prosecutor Cory Bliss described it as one of the “milestone moments” in the undercover operation, seeking the truth about Sheree’s disappearance.
During his testimony Thursday, the supervisor said it was evident Fertuck had been drinking prior to their conversation, but he wasn’t concerned about his level of intoxication.
Court heard the supervisor told Fertuck the organization didn’t have anything to do with drugs, but the criminal side of the business brought in more money than the legitimate side. The legitimate business provided receipts and excuses for employees to travel.
He gave Fertuck a choice between the two sides.
“I’m a bad boy,” Fertuck said, indicating he wanted criminal work.
The supervisor re-assured Fertuck they were friends, and that he’d never put his friend in a position that he wouldn’t do himself. He also told Fertuck he could choose to do legitimate work at any point.
“I wouldn’t rat you out because I’m not a f—–g rat,” Fertuck told the supervisor.
The undercover operator testified that he tried to shut down the topic of being a rat because he didn’t want the thought to stick in Fertuck’s mind.
Court heard testimony about other milestones:
- a meal where an undercover officer posing as an addict was assured he’d have a job after a stint in rehab because he was honest
- another member was fired for dishonesty
- in December 2018, Fertuck and others picked up an organization member from a federal prison and saw the former inmate be welcomed back into the fold
- assessing a head injury
The supervisor also testified about a key incident during the sting. On New Year’s Day in 2019, Fertuck slipped on ice, hit his head and had to go to the hospital. He checked himself out of the facility, only to return after collapsing on the floor at home.
He spent roughly a month receiving treatment in St. Paul’s Hospital and City Hospital in Saskatoon.
On the stand, the supervisor told the court at that point, the sting was in “maintenance mode,” with operators supporting Fertuck, in part, to “maintain the credibility of the organization.
Another surreptitious recording played in court Thursday documented undercover police visiting Fertuck at his home in Saskatoon’s Holiday Park neighbourhood.
The audio is mostly inaudible, punctuated by the sound of rustling, along with a dog barking and whining.
Officers can be heard talking about the prospects of Fertuck returning to work.
“Take your time. When you’re ready, let us know,” the supervisor can be heard saying.
During his testimony, the supervisor said Fertuck told him that he’d stopped drinking by the time he was visited at his home.
“Greg looked the best I’d ever seen him,” he testified.
All of the Crown’s evidence has been presented in a voir dire or admissibility hearing. Justice Richard Danyliuk will determine what evidence can be applied to the trial proper.
The trial is scheduled to last eight weeks.