He goes by Kenny, Ducarmel, K, Kentucky, King Kenny and various other handles, and according to police, who’ve known him for more than two decades, he’s the most influential street gang member in Montreal.
But he’s also an involved father of at least five children, and is a familiar face in the neighbourhood where they attend school.
Ducarme Joseph, which is his real name, has been officially advised three times by police that there are contracts out on his life, but the 41-year-old has laughed them off, saying he has no fear.
“Oh yeah, Kenny is the real deal,” said one lawyer who represents organized crime members. “And now he’s a big hero among the Haitian criminal element in Montreal.”
Joseph has boasted that he never pays for anything, once pouring the remains of two champagne bottles on the ground, and he punched out a tow-truck driver who tried to tow his Porsche when it was illegally parked downtown.
He has also bragged to police that he knows people in politics who are more powerful than the Montreal police chief and boasted that no one would ever put him in jail.
But he’s there now, after being picked up following a dramatic daytime shooting in which he was apparently the target last week at his clothing boutique on St. Jacques St. in Old Montreal.
He is being detained for breaking his bail conditions and will stay behind bars until his trial June 4 for assaulting the doorman at the flashy Buonanotte restaurant on St. Laurent Blvd. Another trial for possession of a silencer is set for June 9.
But very little personal information is known about the man who started the gang known as the 67s, named for the bus line that runs through the St. Michel district.
It appears he has ruled with an iron fist, establishing himself as a major player in the lucrative drug and prostitution business in Montreal, filling the shoes left empty after the dismantling of the Hells Angels and the imprisonment of reputed Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto.
At a small triplex on Shelly St. in St. Michel, the woman renting the downstairs apartment opened her door just a crack for reporters and nervously denied knowing anything about her landlady, Joseph’s mother.
Soon after she closed her door on a journalist, a man, sharply dressed in a pink shirt, well-pressed trousers, a long coat and wearing sunglasses, entered the apartment upstairs, where all the blinds were closed. He opened the door a crack when the doorbell rang, but quickly closed it, saying,
“I don’t want to talk to you!”
Shortly after Joseph’s arrest last week, a support group for him sprang up on Facebook, albeit with only two members.
The founder, Marie-Claude Dupuis-Lacourse, said she knew Joseph’s eldest child, a 16-year-old son. She agreed to chat online about the mysterious gang leader later in the evening, but never appeared online again.
The other member of the group didn’t respond to messages.
What little is known is gleaned from police reports based on informants and undercover cops.
The portrait that emerges is one of a man who rules through intimidation and fear, threatening those who get in his way with retaliation.
And it seems to work.
Several times, witnesses have failed to show up in court to testify against Joseph, according to a report prepared by Sgt.-Det. Jean-Claude Gauthier, a member of the Montreal police criminal intelligence unit and a street-gang expert.
Gauthier prepared the report after last week’s shooting in preparation for Joseph’s bail hearing, and it charts his criminal path, which started in 1987.
In 2008, a charge against him of assault causing bodily harm was dropped after the victim and witnesses didn’t show up in court.
Once, outside a bar on Park Ave., Joseph stabbed two people, according to the police report, one in the neck and one in the shoulder.
One victim identified Joseph in a series of police mugshots but said he didn’t want to file a complaint against him because he was afraid. Although police still filed charges, the victim never showed up in court, the report says.
At an event at the posh W Hotel on Square Victoria, Joseph and about 15 members of his entourage showed up and tried to muscle their way into the popular club in the hotel lobby, but the employee who reported the incident to police didn’t want to file an official complaint for fear of reprisals.
The report says Joseph buys loyalty from his entourage by offering fellow gang members a choice between a Hummer and a Jaguar, making membership attractive.
The day following the shooting in his clothing store, Montreal police arrested Joseph after he left the Notre Dame de Grâce office of construction magnate Tony
Magi–not far from the site on Upper Lachine Rd. where Nick Rizzuto Jr., the son of Vito Rizzuto, was slain in December.
Joseph has been mentioned in police requests for search warrants associated with Magi, including one in November that said Magi hired Joseph in July to collect outstanding loans.
In exchange for his services, Magi, who has no criminal record, set Joseph up in a downtown condominium, according to a search warrant.
Joseph’s violent streak has been known to police since Jan. 8, 1989, when he lured a 12-year-old into prostitution and sexually assaulted her. He pleaded guilty to the assault and was sentenced to eight months in jail plus two years probation.
In the early hours of May 29, 2000, Ducarme kicked, punched and choked a tow-truck operator at Drummond St. and de Maisonneuve Blvd. after he tried to tow a Porsche that was illegally parked in a private lot, Gauthier’s report says. Joseph was acquitted of assault in that case in 2004.
Between April and June 1998, there were several incidents between Joseph and his then-girlfriend. In early April, Joseph tried to strangle her and threatened her with a revolver.
On May 21 of that year, he tried to push her out of a car that was travelling at 180 kilometres an hour. He hit her, threatened to kill her and broke into her house several times, the report says. Joseph was found guilty of uttering death threats against the woman and was sentenced to 15 days in jail and one year probation or a $100 fine. Ten other counts against him in that case were withdrawn.
(His current girlfriend, Cheryl Bailey, a designer associated with his boutique, was released on bail Thursday after agreeing not to contact Joseph, except to discuss emergencies with their children.)
Those who get on his wrong side appear to be dealt with quickly.
Near closing time on March 3, 2003, at Club Vatican on Crescent St., 67-member Richmond Wilkens, alias Scoobidoo, was shot twice. Many sources said it was Joseph–whose fingerprints were found on a drink next to the victim–who shot him, the police report says.
In July 2003, gang member Patrick Annibal Thomas, alias Polo, was killed by a fellow gang member in what police say was an internal hit.
What’s clear, police say, is that Joseph went head-to-head with the Hells Angels, in a bid to gain control of the drug trade. On March 24, 1999, Joseph’s car was found riddled with bullets in a St. Léonard garage.
Joseph and fellow gang members Jean-Raymond Claude and Jean-Louis Agabus were involved in stealing the drug stash of the Hells Angel who shot up Joseph’s car as it drove through Montreal.
Soon afterward, Agabus was killed in Haiti on orders of the Hells, according to Gauthier’s report.
After the most recent assassination attempt on Joseph, in which 50 bullets were fired inside his clothing boutique, killing his bodyguard, Peter Christopoulos, 27, and store manager Jean Gaston, 60, the gang leader allegedly sought out the skills of a hitman.
Police officers began tailing him after a source spotted Joseph in his old neighbourhood of St. Michel, talking to someone nicknamed “Gunman,” Gauthier testified in Quebec Court during Joseph’s bail hearing.
When police arrested Joseph the day after the shooting, they found a sketch of a man on a paper with the words: “Are there photos of the guys to be eliminated.”
“He survived the attack and will come out of this stronger than ever,” Gauthier testified.