Alberta prison worker fired over gang ties

It took more than three years, but Corrections Canada has succeeded in firing an Alberta correctional officer with ties to violent gangsters. The staffer was discovered in a bar hanging out with gangsters; he revealed that he has been friends with the Bacon Brothers – a notorious family-led gang in the Vancouver area; and he was seen snorting cocaine at a party. A labour tribunal concluded that the officer’s explanations and denials were “not believable.” Testimony he gave at a hearing was “hesitant and evasive.” He was fired from his job at Bowden Institution. 

Confronted by Corrections Canada about his gang connections and drug use, Tejinder Braich offered a “complete denial of any wrongdoing.” He was suspended and fired in late 2014, after he had worked at Bowden for roughly a year and a half. He filed grievances against his dismissal, which led to the labour tribunal hearing. Braich claimed that he had disclosed to his bosses at Correctional Service of Canada when he was first hired that he was a former school friend of the infamous Bacon Brothers. A CSC prison intelligence officer who interviewed Braich when he began working at Bowden, testified that he wasn’t aware of any such disclosure, according to the labour tribunal’s final decision:

He also repeatedly denied the assertions that [Braich] had given him verbal disclosure of his relationships with known criminals and repeated his statement that he would remember something as significant as a CX disclosing a relationship with notorious criminals such as the Bacon Brothers.

Braich’s gang connections were questioned after he was discovered in a notorious gang hangout, a bar in his hometown of Abbotsford, British Columbia, in February 2014. Police regularly visit Lou’s and other establishments where gangsters congregate, an Abbotsford police officer told the tribunal. If gangsters are found in the pubs, they are tossed out. Const. Ramsden testified that he visited Lou’s on Feb. 12 and spotted three gangsters, men with criminal records who are known for violence and are active in the drug trade, seated at a table with a fourth man he didn’t know.

When Ramsden asked the fourth man for identification, Braich produced his Correctional Officer badge. The labour hearing adjudicator noted that:

Adding emphasis to the notoriety of the grievor’s friends and the consternation this caused his managers was a confidential CSC security intelligence briefing that was adduced as evidence at the hearing. It states that all three of the gang members found seated with the grievor at Lou’s Bar have connections to one of the gangs in the Vancouver and Lower Mainland area that at that time was involved in an extremely violent gang war, which had resulted in several very public execution-style killings, some of which took place at bars, restaurants, and cafes. The briefing also noted the fact that one of the criminal gangs involved in this violent conflict had cultivated connections with inmates in federal institutions.

The officer said he spoke discreetly to Braich, telling him: “I can’t believe you are here with gang members. It is not appropriate for you to be here.” The officer ordered the three gangsters to leave the bar. He told the labour hearing that the trio left with Braich and the group shared a taxi. Braich claimed that he and his brother went to Lou’s for food and bumped into the three gangsters, former school chums who he knew. He insisted he had no ongoing ties to gangsters. The tribunal concluded that Braich’s explanation for that evening was “improbable.”

The hearing also heard about a social gathering in June 2014 when Braich told a CSC co-worker that he had “friends and homies” in Abbotsford who were “bad dudes” and he could get drugs. At the party, he was seen with white powder in his nose. He also told a co-worker that he was concerned about members of the Bacon Brothers gang being incarcerated at Bowden Institution which could jeopardize his safety. According to the record of the hearing, Braich told the co-worker he hoped to transfer to a penitentiary nearer his hometown in British Columbia.

The labour tribunal record also reveals that Braich had told his new employer, when he was first hired, that his father and an uncle had served time in federal penitentiaries. 

The labour board adjudicator concluded that Braich’s firing was reasonable: “I find any and all such criminal gang associations by a CSC employee deeply troubling and completely unacceptable.”

The record of the hearing does not delve into the broader context. Corrections Canada has a problem with ultra-violent gangs penetrating penitentiary security. They pose a serious threat to the safety of staff and inmates. In some cases, compliant and less-than-honourable staff members are convinced or coerced to help gangs smuggle drugs and other contraband inside prisons (including cellphones and other devices that gangsters use inside prison to continue to operate their criminal enterprises). In one notorious incident in Ontario in 2010, a manager at maximum-security Millhaven Institution was caught smuggling heroin and other drugs into the prison in a scheme orchestrated by the Hells Angels outlaw biker gang. Roughly a year after he struck a plea bargain, the worker was found dead.

While not an apparently gang-related incident, another Bowden Institution staffer was recently sentenced for helping a prisoner escape. The staffer also was fired. Bowden has medium- and minimum-security units and is 100 kilometres north of Calgary.


Here’s an e-version of the labour tribunal decision in Braich’s case (or read it online):

 

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