Homicide trial of hit man’s alleged confederate begins at Montreal courthouse

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Giovanni Presta is alleged to have helped hit man Frédérick Silva when he killed an associate of the Hells Angels in St-Léonard in 2018.

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Paul Cherry  •  Montreal Gazette A Montreal police officer stands near a gun at the service station where a shootout occurred in St-Léonard on Thursday December 20, 2018. Sébastien Beauchamp, a man who had close ties to the Hells Angels, was killed. A Montreal police officer stands near a gun at the service station where a shootout occurred in St-Léonard on Thursday December 20, 2018. Sébastien Beauchamp, a man who had close ties to the Hells Angels, was killed. Photo by Pierre Obendrauf /Montreal Gazette files

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The trial of a man who is alleged to have helped hit man Frédérick Silva when he killed an associate of the Hells Angels nearly four years ago in St-Léonard got underway at the Montreal courthouse on Thursday.

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Giovanni Presta, 37, is charged with the first-degree murder of Sébastien Beauchamp, 44, the former member of a Hells Angels support gang called the Rockers who was shot on Dec. 20, 2018 at a gas station on Langelier Blvd., near Robert Blvd.

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Presta is alleged to have been the getaway driver when the homicide was carried out.

Presta’s lawyer, Dominique Shoofey, entered a not guilty plea to the charge as the trial began before Superior Court Justice Marc-André Blanchard. The murder trial will be heard before a judge alone.

It begins just two months after Silva, 42, was whisked away in a police helicopter from a federal penitentiary in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines. He was removed from the penitentiary in early July after being placed under police protection by the Sûreté du Québec. In August, Crown prosecutor Antoine Piché confirmed in court that Silva is collaborating with the police.

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Before he decided to become an informant, Silva was found guilty of murdering four men, including Beauchamp, as well as the attempted murder of Montreal Mafia leader Salvatore Scoppa.

The trial began with Blanchard being presented with a series of documents, including a report summarizing how Presta and Silva were seen together on May 8, 2017, long before Beauchamp was killed. At that point, Silva was being investigated for another crime. A police investigator secretly took photos of the men as they exited Presta’s home in Terrebonne. Another investigator recorded video of the men later that day as they met outside a convenience store in Terrebonne.

The following day, Silva was under police surveillance when he visited Presta’s home again. Piché noted that Silva was so familiar with Presta that he went inside his house without knocking or ringing a doorbell.

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A little more than two weeks later, Silva killed Concordia University student Daniel Armando Somoza-Gildea during a heated argument that started inside a strip club in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. Presta is not charged in connection with that slaying.

The judge was also shown photos depicting how Presta had several surveillance cameras installed outside his home.

Blanchard will begin hearing testimony from the first witness in the trial on Monday.

During Silva’s trial last October, witnesses described how they saw Beauchamp being chased through the gas station by the gunman, who turned out to be Silva. Three firearms equipped with silencers and more than a dozen spent shell casings were recovered by police. One of the silencers was similar to other homemade silencers found in Presta’s home when he was arrested.

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The Montreal police also found a GPS tracking device hidden underneath Beauchamp’s rented sports utility vehicle.

One of the bullets fired while Beauchamp was being chased went through the window of the convenience store attached to the gas station and struck a wall on the other side.

Presta was arrested in February 2019. He also faces charges related to firearms and drug trafficking in a case that is expected to be heard separately.

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  1. Sébastien Beauchamp, 44, a former member of a Hells Angels support club, was gunned down on Dec. 20 at a gas station in St-Léonard.

    Charges filed in cases of three organized crime hits in St-Léonard

  2. Frédérick Silva, a convicted hitman with ties to organized crime, was whisked away by a police helicopter from a federal penitentiary north of Montreal on Thursday after having been placed under police protection.

    Hit man tied to organized crime removed by helicopter from federal penitentiary

  3. Sébastien Beauchamp was fatally shot Dec. 20 in St-Léonard. He had been a member of the Rockers biker gang.

    Slain biker’s life had a rough start, violent ending in St-Léonard

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