When Dean Michael Wiwchar was charged in June for gunning down a man in Toronto’s Little Italy, his lawyer claimed he was innocent and “in shock” over the “surreal” charges. And the lawyer refuted a police claim that he was a B.C. resident leading up to his arrest.
But I tracked down court documents Thursday that show Wiwchar was not only established and living in B.C., but that he was under investigation by the Vancouver Police Department in March through May 24, 2012.
That investigation led to 37 firearms counts related to some high-powered guns allegedly found the possession of Wiwchar, Vancouver gangster Philip Juan Ley and a woman named Juanita Hyslop.
Ley, you may recall, was targeted in a Richmond shooting just days after Gurmit Singh Dhak was gunned down in Burnaby in October 2010. Then a few days later, the Gang Task Force (now CFSEU) disrupted a pro-Dhak meeting in Vancouver’s Kensington Park that a prosecutor later alleged was to plan another attempt on Ley’s life. Mike Shirazi and Christopher Iser were charged and convicted on several gun counts.
VPD wouldn’t comment on what led them to look at Wiwchar and whether he is believed to be connected to any of the gang shootings in Metro Vancouver before his arrest in Toronto.
He was released from jail until June 2011, but was here until his Toronto arrest in June 2012.
Here’s my full story:
Read the indictment:
Alleged hit man in Toronto shooting also charged with weapons offences in Vancouver
An alleged hitman was under investigation by Vancouver police for months before he was charged in a brazen gangland execution June 18 in Toronto’s Little Italy, The Vancouver Sun has learned.
But Dean Michael Wiwchar, who remains in pre-trial custody in Ontario, was not charged in the B.C. probe until after he was arrested in the killing of Toronto’s John Raposo.
Vancouver Provincial Court documents obtained by The Sun show Wiwchar, Philip Juan Ley and Juanita Suzanne Hyslop were charged June 27 with 37 firearms counts related to an investigation that covered March to May 2012.
All three are due to be arraigned on the charges Nov. 7.
Ley, a gang associate, was wounded in a Richmond shooting in October 2010 that police said was in retaliation for the Metrotown murder of gangster Gurmit Singh Dhak days earlier.
Ley’s name surfaced again earlier this year during the trials of two men caught with firearms in Vancouver’s Kensington Park, also in October 2010.
The men – associates of Dhak – gathered with others in the park after attending funeral services for their friend. The Gang Task Force watched as one of the men hid a gun behind a baseball diamond. Other guns were found in a secret compartment of an SUV.
One of those in the park – Billy Tran – was carrying three photographs of Ley and had $20,000 cash in his BMW. He was never charged, but associates Mike Shirazi and Chris Iser were convicted on firearms counts and sentenced to more than five years each.
The Crown alleged during the trials that a possible murder plot with Ley as the target had been interrupted by police.
More than a dozen shootings and murders over the last two years have been linked to boiling gang tensions between the Dhak-Duhre group and an alliance of some Hells Angels, Independent Soldiers and Red Scorpions. Just this week, Chief Supt. Dan Malo, head of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, described Dhak’s 2010 murder as the “flashpoint of the current gang conflict.”
Vancouver police wouldn’t comment Thursday on the charges against Wiwchar, Ley and Hyslop or whether the Wiwchar investigation is connected to any of the unsolved shootings and murders in the Lower Mainland.
“The file is currently before the courts and it would therefore be inappropriate for me to comment further at this time,” VPD media officer Sgt. Randy Fincham said.
After Wiwchar’s arrest in the Little Italy shooting, his lawyer Christopher Avery refuted police claims that he was from B.C. and he was “shocked” to be charged with first-degree murder. “He has no idea why he’s been charged. He finds the entire experience surreal,” Avery said.
Avery did not return a Sun reporter’s call Thursday about the 37 new B.C. counts.
The seven-page Vancouver indictment says both Wiwchar, 27, and Ley, 26, possessed 15 illegal or prohibited firearms between March 16 and April 23, 2012, “at or near Surrey.”
Among the guns listed are two 12-gauge pump action shotguns, an Uzi submachine-gun, a Romanian automatic rifle, a Norinco semi-automatic rifle, Sig Sauer, Colt, Taurus, Ruger and Norinco semi-automatic pistols, a .38 Smith and Wesson revolver and a .44 Magnum.
The indictment alleges some of the guns’ serial numbers had been defaced and that both Ley and Wiwchar also illegally possessed six “over capacity cartridge magazines” for the firearms.
Wiwchar and Hyslop face eight counts jointly on the indictment that relate to possessing both a Ceska Zbrojovka tactical rifle and a loaded .45 Ruger handgun without permits in Vancouver on May 24, 2012 – less than a month before Raposo was shot in the head in front of the Sicilian Sidewalk Cafe in Toronto’s Little Italy.
Both Ley and Wiwchar also face charges of possessing firearms while under court prohibitions.
Wiwchar, who grew up in Stouffville, Ont., landed in a B.C. prison after being convicted and serving time for a series of robberies in his home province.
While in Kent institution, he was convicted of uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm for an incident that happened in April 2010. He got a three-month conditional sentence and a five-year firearms ban. He was also convicted of assaulting a correctional officer and uttering threats while in an Abbotsford prison in 2009.