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Ex-fiancée of Clint McLaughlin testifies at his gun trial in Saskatoon
The woman Clint James McLaughlin is in prison for kidnapping and beating in 2014 testified Tuesday at his gun trial in Saskatoon.
From behind a witness shield, Mariana Cracogna said McLaughlin, who lived with her at the time, called Noel Harder to pick up guns from her garage on March 28, 2014. She said she opened the garage for Harder and watched him pull out two black bags that were stored in the attic.
Cracogna said she didn’t see what was inside, other than a glimpse of what she thought were long guns in a partially-opened bag.
At the time, McLaughlin and Harder were members of the Fallen Saints Motorcycle Club — a support club for the Hells Angels, court has heard. Police had surveillance on both men in connection with Project Forseti, a drug and gun investigation targeting biker clubs and their alleged connection to organized crime in Saskatchewan.
After leaving Cracogna’s home, Harder was caught with eight firearms — four rifles, two shotguns and two restricted handguns — that he said came from McLaughlin. He said he offered to work with police on Project Forseti and was released the next day without charges. Harder officially signed on as a police agent in September 2014.
The guns found in Harder’s truck form the 17 charges laid against McLaughlin. They include three counts each of unauthorized possession of a prohibited firearm, possession of stolen firearms, unauthorized transfer of a firearm and possessing firearms while prohibited to do so.
Court heard McLaughlin was on conditions that he not be around any weapons at the time.
On Monday, Harder testified McLaughlin wanted to get rid of the guns because he was paranoid about police searching his home and couldn’t leave while on electronic monitoring. He said it was Cracogna who loaded the guns into his truck.
On cross-examination, Cracogna said she “had no idea” there were guns in her garage until Harder came to get them. The only guns she allowed in her home were her own, she told the defence, adding she was a “stickler” for gun rules.
McLaughlin took careful precautions to ensure there were no guns or knives in their house prior to March, 28, 2014, defence lawyer Nicholas Stooshinoff said during cross-examination. He played recorded conversations in which McLaughlin told Cracogna to store her guns with a family member.
Stooshinoff suggested that if the guns in the attic belonged to Harder, McLaughlin might not have told Cracogna if Harder came to get them.
Cracogna told Stooshinoff she didn’t see any guns in Harder’s truck when he arrived at her house and that she has no memory of Harder offering to sell guns to McLaughlin.
The accused was a “firearms fanatic” known for offering to stash people’s guns in a “secret storage spot” on his farm, Harder testified. Under cross-examination, Cracogna said she never saw firearms at McLaughlin’s farm and never heard him talk about stashing or selling guns.
McLaughlin is currently serving a six-year sentence for abducting and viciously assaulting Cracogna in May 2014.
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