Undercover RCMP officer explains how Greg Fertuck was targeted in 'Mr. Big' sting
In the summer of 2018, Greg Fertuck entered a contest at a Saskatoon liquor store, court heard on Monday.
Those who completed the survey could win one of three prizes: a trip to Cancun, a trip to Canmore or concert tickets.
Fertuck won the trip to Canmore.
What he didn’t know: it was all set up by police.
Fertuck is charged with first-degree murder in connection to the disappearance of his estranged wife, Sheree Fertuck.
Sheree was last seen on Dec. 7, 2015 leaving her family farm to go haul gravel near Kenaston, Sask.
Her body has never been found.
The Crown believes Fertuck shot Sheree at the gravel pit.
The prosecution’s case relies on a confession Fertuck made to undercover police officers.
Fertuck was the target of a “Mr. Big” sting — where undercover officers pose as criminals, befriend a suspect and aim to get to the truth.
The technique is controversial and even banned in several countries. Defence lawyers argue targets are manipulated into giving false confessions.
The RCMP officer who designed the undercover police operation targeting Fertuck, named Project Fisten, took the stand.
Undercover cops who testify can’t be named under a publication ban, to protect the officers’ identity.
CTV News has decided to name this undercover member as Officer A.
Before launching the sting, police spent weeks watching Fertuck during “lifestyle surveillance.”
The goal was to learn Fertuck’s habits to help mould the personality and scenarios of Project Fisten.
Officer A testified Fertuck made daily trips to the liquor store, so Officer A decided to launch the undercover operation through a contest at the former Mano’s off-sale on 22nd Street West.
Fertuck brought his girlfriend on the all-expenses-paid trip to Canmore he won.
“They were very happy, excited they won,” Officer A testified.
In Canmore, he met another couple and a father-daughter duo who also won the trip. They’re all undercover police officers with hidden audio recording devices.
Fertuck befriends the father, who explained he works for a vehicle hauling business that has a criminal side moving contraband.
Eventually, Fertuck starts working for the business.
Fertuck gets offered about $80 for legit trips and $200 for contraband trips, Officer A testified.
Fertuck is given the choice to work on the legal or illegal side. He chose the criminal side, court heard.
“We tried to portray ourselves as a sophisticated criminal organization,” Officer A said.
The employees of the criminal organization, who were really RCMP officers, would brag that they were smarter than biker gangs and didn’t get involved with drugs because it was too risky.
“Do you actually get Greg to break any actual laws?” the Crown asked Officer A.
“No,” he responded.
To sell the idea, Officer A said they would have loan shark meetings and move bags of fake contraband.
Officer A testified Fertuck never asked what the contraband was.
The undercover RCMP officers went to bars and strip clubs with Fertuck.
“Bad guys go to strip joints, so that’s what we did,” Officer A testified.
They even went as far to give Fertuck a custom hoodie with the fake company’s logo printed on it.
Officer A testified each interaction with Fertuck was meticulously organized.
Undercover officers ran 136 scenarios, pre-planned encounters, during Project Fisten — some of the scenarios only involved his girlfriend.
Officer A testified Fertuck’s excessive drinking made scenarios difficult to pull off.
“The drinking was an obstacle. It did not help us at all, it hindered the operation,” the undercover officer testified.
Project Fisten lasted 11 months — from August 2018 to June 2019.
Court is expected to hear about Fertuck’s recorded confession later in the trial.
But the confession may not be accepted as evidence by the judge.
The trial is in a voir dire, a trial within a trial, to determine the admissibility of evidence.
First, the details are laid out. Then, the judge will decide if it can be used in the Crown’s case.
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