In one sentence from a wiretap, Hells Angels boss Billy Miller explained why London is so attractive to outlaw bikers, drug dealers and organized crime.
“It’s not like there’s no money,” in London, he told his girlfriend in 2002. And after all, he said about the Hells Angels, “everything is about money.”
Big money landed Miller, 54, a 15-month sentence for his “leadership role” in a criminal gambling organization, Platinum Sports Book, that brought in millions of dollars and was broken up after a highly publicized bust of a Super Bowl party in 2013.
“Platinum is a large and sophisticated criminal organization that had as its main purpose . . . bookmaking,” said Justice Michael Brown as he passed sentence on Miller.
Platinum ran a website off servers in Costa Rica that took bets from thousands of gamblers across Southern Ontario on a wide range of sports.
Miller, who wasn’t the head of Platinum, helped to organize the huge Super Bowl party with more than 2,300 guests, court heard.
“There’s no direct evidence that Miller received cash or made any profit from Platinum, but it was an organization engaged in bookmaking involving extremely large sums of money,” said Brown.
He was acquitted on an extortion charge on March 17, but convicted of bookmaking for the benefit of criminal organization.
Crown attorney Matthew Bloch asked Brown to impose a sentence of two years less a day.
Miller’s lawyer, Paula Rochman, said Miller should receive a suspended sentence, a substantial fine or at most six months in jail.
Miller has an extensive criminal record for weapons- and gaming-related charges, but hasn’t had a conviction since 2002, said Brown.
There was no evidence at the trial linking Miller to the Hells Angels.
Perhaps Miller has retired, though that seems unlikely for a man whose path to leadership in the motorcycle gang mirrored the change in biker landscape in Ontario in the early 2000s.
It’s possible that without Miller taking over London’s fledging Hells Angels from the more volatile and violent Quebec biker leadership, the landscape in this city might have been dramatically different.
According to testimony in a 2005 extortion case that didn’t involve him, Miller was a member of the Outlaws motorcycle gang in Toronto. That chapter became Rock Machine in June 2000, Bandidos by January 2001 and Hells Angels in February 2001.
The attraction of switching to the Hells Angels came down to power and money for Miller.
According to wiretapped phone and room conversations gathered in the extortion case, Miller told his girlfriend in December 2002 that the Outlaws controlled border crossings, but the Hells Angels controlled ocean ports.
“He talked about ‘it’ coming into docks controlled by others and said it was like a grocery store being surrounded and unable to sell to anybody else, so it can only go to one place,” Superior Court Justice Michelle Fuerst said in a 2005 ruling on the extortion case.
A police biker expert testified the Hells Angels controlled ports, or worked with Mafia allies to import drugs.
The London prospect chapter was created and controlled by the Sherbrooke, Que., chapter in April 2001, but Ontario Hells Angels presidents weren’t happy about the way it was run, according to evidence in the extortion trial.
Quebec bikers had a shoot-first- ask-questions-later attitude, contrary to the Ontario members’ desire to make decisions based on facts, and present a professional image to the public.
In 2002, when Miller was president of the North Toronto Hells Angels chapter, he spoke in conversations with his girlfriend about how club leaders wanted him to move to London.
By the end of the year, Miller was running the London chapter and the Quebec bikers were running the Niagara chapter.
Police still considered Miller a member of the Hells Angels in London in 2008.
By the time of his arrest for bookmaking in 2013, Miller was described as ex-president of the London chapter.
His court hearing late last week heard he lives most of the time in the Dominican Republic.
Miller is one of the relatively few busted in the Platinum investigation to get jail time, with many others fined, sentenced to house arrest or having their charges dropped.
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