As gang informant sues government over Witness Protection Program treatment, authorities want case sealed from public view

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His secret cooperation led to the fall of numerous gang members, but Noel Harder says the Witness Protection Program felt like a 'death sentence'

Noel Harder, who is suing the Crown and RCMP for allegedly failing to keep him safe after he turned on his gangland associates, is now trying to stop the Canadian government from hiding his lawsuit from public view.

Once a high ranking member of the Fallen Saints Motorcycle Club, Harder was the star witness in Project Forseti, a police and RCMP operation against the Hells Angels, Fallen Saints and others in Saskatoon that saw more than 200 guns and $8 million in drugs seized in January 2015.

Harder and the Fallen Saints had long run huge amounts of drugs into Saskatoon from Vancouver, using his construction business as their base. He first agreed to cooperate with cops after being caught with guns in 2014, and he, his wife and two children began the process of entering the Witness Protection Program (WPP) when the Forseti raids were made.

And although his double-dealing led to the fall of numerous gang operatives, a claim filed at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Regina in March says RCMP failings after he fled town left Harder and his family financially crippled and in acute danger.

Among the agreements that Harder says were reneged upon was a $50,000 payment for ensuring one particular Hells Angel went to prison for eight years.

It’s just to stop the public from seeing the evidence of how bad the Witness Protection Program really is

Now, citing legal subsections dealing with “the means and methods by which protected persons are protected,” the government says Harder’s lawsuit should be heard without the press or public present.

Harder’s lawyer says authorities want to hide the case because it makes them look bad.

“This attempt to stop the media has nothing to do with the safety of anybody,” said Regina lawyer Tony Merchant, who represents the former gangster and his family. “It certainly doesn’t have anything to do with my clients because they’re not getting any protection.”

“It’s just to stop the public from seeing the evidence of how bad the Witness Protection Program really is. Once you give the government what they want, they have you in their control and they misuse that control. You don’t get the protection you think you’re getting.”

Saskatoon Police Service and the RCMP displayed some of the weapons seized during the execution of several arrests related to Project Forseti on Jan. 15, 2015 in Saskatoon. Richard Marjan/Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Among a catalogue of allegations, the 24-page statement of claim by Harder says the RCMP, which runs the witness protection program, badly mismanaged businesses, properties and vehicles he left behind in Saskatoon; endangered the family by failing to provide them with name changes on time; used handling methods that gave away their whereabouts; and left Harder unprotected in a Saskatoon hotel room for two days as he took the stand in a Forseti case.

Once he was gone from Saskatoon, the “Crown’s representatives allowed members of the Fallen (Saints) Motorcycle Club to go through (Harder’s) office unsupervised and remove what they wished,” the claim says. In hiding, the claim says the family was frequently threatened that their involvement in the program would be terminated, adding that it felt like a “death sentence.”

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

The claim says the entire family was eventually terminated, involuntarily, from the WPP. Merchant says that Harder is no longer receiving any protection. The protection status of the rest of the family, however, is unclear. A message left for Harder via Merchant’s office was not returned.

In the application to see the case held in private, the Canadian attorney general asks for an order “that names in the Statement if Claim by anonymized, that the Statement of Claim and all subsequent pleadings and documents in the within proceedings be sealed, and that any court proceedings related to this action be held in camera pursuant to the provisions of the Witness Protection Program Act (WPPA) … ”

The application says Harder’s claim, “contains information that is prohibited from disclosure under the WPPA,” and that in order to defend themselves, authorities, “will be required to include information in pleadings, documents and court proceedings which would also be prohibited from disclosure.”

Calls to the department of justice seeking comment on the sealing application were not returned. An RCMP spokesperson said they could not comment on the case as it is before the court.

The application is set to go before a judge at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Regina on Thursday.

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Brian Fitzpatrick
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