The undercover officer who spent the most time with Greg Fertuck during an elaborate Mr. Big sting is now offering a granular breakdown of how RCMP insinuated themselves into the accused killer's life.
Fertuck is on trial at Court of Queen's Bench in Saskatoon charged with first-degree murder in the disappearance of his wife Sheree six years ago. He has pleaded not guilty.
RCMP arrested Greg after he disclosed to undercover officers that he shot Sheree twice and then dumped her body in a rural location north of a gravel pit near Kenaston, Sask.
Sheree worked at the pit and was last seen heading there after lunch on Dec. 7, 2015. Her truck, cell phone and jacket were found there the next day. She has not been seen or heard from since.
In court Tuesday, the officer described a scenario where Greg witnessed a supposed criminal confederate pick up a woman in the Clark's Crossing bar for a sexual liaison. Court heard, however, that everything that happened that evening in November 2018 was a charade carefully staged by police to achieve a specific investigative end.
The liaison also set the stage for a later scenario involving the apparent murder of the female undercover officer under circumstances that mirrored Greg's alleged murder of his wife Sheree.
Undercover officers led Greg to believe they were actually criminals in a tactic called a Mr. Big sting. The officers ran 136 structured interactions, called scenarios, culminating in Greg making his disclosure to a supposed crime boss — Mr. Big — in a Saskatoon hotel room in June 2019.
The officer in the witness box Tuesday was involved in 115 of the 136 scenarios. None of the undercover officers can be named because of a court-ordered publication ban. Because of his role, he's described in court as "the primary operator."
He stood clean-shaven in the witness box, wearing a blue blazer, tie and light blue shirt. He testified that during the sting he had a beard, longer hair and favoured t-shirts, jeans and boots. He referred frequently Tuesday to a black binder, four fingers thick, with details of each scenario.
Greg sat in the prisoner's box wearing an orange sweatshirt, green pants and leg shackles. He wore headphones, with a blue surgical mask dangling from the right earpiece.
Justice Richard Danyliuk is presiding over the judge-alone trial, now in its sixth week.
Falling off the wagon
The officer testified Tuesday that the scenarios were designed to advance themes. Two of the key themes were that the criminal organization was large and sophisticated, and that it placed a premium on honesty and forgiveness.
Themes were also tailored to mirror Greg's personal circumstances. For example, Greg demonstrated that he had a drinking problem and struggled with sobriety. So, characters played by undercover police also struggled with booze.
In scenario 31, Greg and three of the undercover officers went to Clark's Crossing bar in the city's north end that the operatives favoured because its blue-collar ambience made Greg comfortable.
That night one of the police, presented to Greg up until then as a sober-but-struggling gang member, hit it off with a woman he'd met at the bar. The female stranger was, in fact, another police officer.
The two officers left in a Range Rover belonging to one of the senior gang members.
The next day, the supposed gang member who left with the woman did not show up for work and did not respond to texts or calls. The gang had to re-jig a job that day because of his absence.
It took 48 hours for him to re-surface. The Range Rover was in an impound lot, and the member admitted to falling off the wagon and going on a bender with his new girlfriend.
This all led to a meeting with Greg and three other officers to deal with what had happened. Greg believed that the fallen member would be disciplined for his actions.
They all met at the Grainfield's Restaurant on Eighth Street in Saskatoon.
The now-sober member admitted to all details of what happened, "owning his mistake," according to the officer's testimony Tuesday. The member also said that he had only been drinking, not doing drugs, which was also a key theme of the gang. It did not condone selling drugs.
The member was forgiven for his transgression, lauded for his honesty, assured he still had a job in the gang and then taken to rehab.
This detailed scenario is typical of the interactions created and presented by RCMP over the 10 months of the sting. Other witnesses have testified how the scenarios are complex and interconnected.
The gang member who went to rehab, for example, returned to the organization but also maintained a relationship with the woman he met at the bar. This relationship slowly deteriorated in front of the other gang members, most importantly Greg, until Greg was led to believe that the woman was murdered in a climactic "alibi scenario."
The gang then helped cover it up because the guilty member came clean about the details. This set the stage for Greg disclosing what he did to his own wife, Sheree.
This evidence and testimony is being presented as part of a voir dire, or trial within a trial, so that Justice Danyliuk can assess its admissibility.
The witness on Tuesday was the 43rd person called by the Crown. Court is also expected to hear from the crime boss — and see Greg's videotaped murder disclosure — and from Greg's girlfriend, Doris Larocque.
The trial began Sept. 7.