Plumber Turned Out To Be Undercover Cop

Columnist, Claude MacIntosh
Plumber Turned Out To Be Undercover Cop
Mac's Musings

The owner/operator of an illegal gambling den in a Marlborough Street home dealt himself a bad hand in January 1970 when he extended an invitation to a “plumber” he met in a Montreal Road bar. The stranger mentioned that he was new in town and looking for a card game.

Turned out the “plumber” was an undercover member of the Ontario Provincial Police anti-gambling squad based in Toronto.

When the cops raided the joint, seven people, including the owner, were arrested. All pleaded guilty. The owner was fined $500. Each “customer” was dinged for $50.

Court was told that for 10% of the pot – which averaged $60 – the operator supplied players with “free” beer and lunch. When the cops made the bust, there was $133 in the pot, and lunch hadn’t been served.

Two of the players caught a break from Judge Michael Fitzpatrick who ruled there was no proof money seized from their wallets – $185 and $600 – was proceeds of crime. He ordered the money be returned.

As for the undercover cop, he proved to be a better undercover officer than poker player. Court was told he was down $89 when the raid took place.


A 122-page consultant’s report unveiled on Jan. 20, 1970 recommended that the city separate the dual clerk-administrator position and replace it with a chief administrative officer (CAO) position.

That and other recommendations – doing away with standing committees and a less “aggressive” role by the mayor in direct administration of the city – did not sit well with two members of council.

Ald. Francis Guindon said the city was becoming a “communist state.” Ald. Angelo Lebano said it would give civil servants too much power and reduce councillors to “rubber stamps.”

(Two years later the city had its first CAO, Maurice Engels, who faced an uphill battle with some members of council before leaving to take a position with London, Ont. In the late 1970s he was named Canada’s top CAO.)

Labour negotiations, the report said, should be turned over to an “appointed” staff member and taken away from a committee of council. Another recommendation was the creation of an executive committee comprised of the CAO, treasurer, city engineer and clerk to replace weekly staff meetings, which the report described as unwieldy with too many taking part.

The report also said the city should consider holding municipal elections on Sunday and replacing the ward system with elections-at-large.

ALSO IN JANUARY 1970 – Tenders were called for a new fire station/headquarters to be built adjacent to city hall. Estimated cost was $279,000 with the province and feds picking up 75% of the cost. … Ald. Roy Brunet complained that construction of new apartments and homes had created a surplus that was hurting landlords. He claimed there were 500 vacant rental units in the city. However, the city assessment office said the number was 201, and a many were uninhabitable. … Roman Catholic priest Rev. D. B. McDougald said that too many times parents put pressure on their parish priest to marry their children when the marriage stood little chance of surviving. In most cases, he said, a pregnancy is involved. … … Cornwall native Pierre Guindon was traded to the Montreal Alouettes by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. … A 3-1 loss to Verdun Maple Leafs put Cornwall Royals on the brink of elimination in a Quebec Junior Hockey League quarter-final series. Barry Brooks had the Cornwall goal. … Cornwall dropped a 2-1 heart-breaker to Oshawa in the Quebec Carnival Peewee Hockey Tournament semi-final round. Andre Jodoin had the Cornwall goal.

TRIVIA ANSWER The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company was better known as A & P. The chain of grocery stores was founded in 1859 and operated until 2015. From 1915 until 1975 it was the largest grocery retailer in North America. It operated in Cornwall on Pitt Street and later on Sydney Street. Farm Boy now occupies the building.

TRIVIA Bob and Dan Geoffrion who played for the Cornwall Royals in the 1970s were grandsons of this Montreal Canadiens legend and NHL hall of famer: 1) Joe Malone, 2) Aurele Joliat, 3) Howie Morenz, 4) Toe Blake, 5) Georges Vezina.

QUOTED “I am not the editor of a newspaper and shall always try to do the right thing and be good so that God will not make me one.” – Mark Twain

LIFE AND TIMES      Since I hadn’t applied for a job at The Windsor Star, I found it strange that its executive editor, Norm Hull, was offering me a job over the phone, which I accepted. Two days later I discovered that Ed Lumley had recommended me. Ed’s wife, Pat, was Hull’s niece.

For the first month, life at The Star was, as they say, a beach. I got weekends off, never had to buy a beer at the press club and a was given a free room at the Norton Hotel, which The Star owned. I even got assigned to help the paper’s Detroit Red Wings beat writer cover the team’s training camp in Port Huron.

The guy treated me as a nuisance and I spent most of the time

going to the concession to get him a coffee and running errands.

It wasn’t all bad. Media guys drew numbers to see which table they sat at for the media day luncheon. I ended up sitting with Frank and Peter Mahovlich, Kent Douglas, Roger Crozier and Mike McMahon Jr., who I discovered was son of Mike Sr. who played five seasons with the Cornwall Flyers, 1936-40.

Then one day the labour reporter and president of the news room union, a guy called Spiro DeBono, asked me how I was related to “Mr. Hull?” He said everyone figured I was his nephew.

Since I hadn’t a face-to-face interview and hadn’t applied for the job, the rumour was that I must be related to Hull.

DeBono was surprised when I told him I wasn’t related and in fact had never met the man. (Hull was on vacation when I arrived)

Suddenly, I was buying my own beer, working weekends and moving out of the Norton.

It was fun while it lasted.

Share this article