Biker gets life for 1993 murder

Prosecutor says Richard Vallee ``has shown absolutely no remorse'' for blowing up government witness

BRENDAN J. LYONS Senior writer
Section: Capital Region,  Page: D1

Date: Tuesday, April 15, 2008

ALBANY - Richard Vallee, a once-notorious figure in the violent underworld of Canadian biker gangs, was sentenced Monday to life in prison for planting a car bomb that killed a government witness in Rouses Point 15 years ago.


Vallee, 50, a former high-ranking member of Montreal's Three Rivers Chapter of the Hells Angels, arrived at Albany International Airport aboard a government jet on Monday morning under the watchful eye of federal SWAT teams. A U.S. Marshals task force had flown Vallee in from Lewisburg Penitentiary in Pennsylvania, where he has been held since a federal jury here convicted him of murder last September in a case that took a dozen years to reach trial.


Vallee spent six years on the run after a bold escape from Canadian authorities in 1997. He was awaiting extradition to Albany that year for the 1993 murder of 31-year-old Lee Carter Jr., a border town bartender who became an unwitting government witness.


"This was a horrific crime," Assistant U.S. Attorney William Pericak told Judge Thomas J. McAvoy at the James T. Foley U.S. District Court in Albany. "He has shown absolutely no remorse."


Indeed, a person close to the case said law enforcement authorities on both sides of the border had privately solicited Vallee's cooperation against others, but he turned them down.


Carter's father, Lee, attended the sentencing but did not speak. He wrote a letter to the judge that is not part of the public record.


The Hells Angels in Montreal once dominated the cocaine trade in Quebec, importing about 100 kilograms a week across the U.S. border, Pericak said.


Lee Carter Jr. became entangled in the underworld when two strangers offered to pay him to drive a car from New York City to the border.


Carter contacted State Police and was enlisted as an informant. It turned out the car had 54 kilograms of cocaine in the trunk. Carter's assistance resulted in the arrests of five people, including Vallee.


Carter allegedly declined an offer to be placed in a witness protection program.


On July 23, 1993, Carter emerged from a trailer behind a bowling alley where he tended bar in Rouses Point, the northernmost town in Clinton County. He turned the ignition of his older-model Porsche and depressed the clutch pedal, which set off an explosion so fierce that authorities found pieces of the car on the roof of the nearby bowling alley.


Vallee, a demolitions expert, was an immediate suspect. Three years later, he was indicted by a federal grand jury in Albany for the murder of a government witness and arrested in Canada. In 1997, shortly before his scheduled extradition to Albany, Vallee was taken to a Canadian hospital and pulled a daring escape from armed guards with the suspected assistance of the Hells Angels.


In 2003, after Vallee had been on the run for more than six years and living in Costa Rica, he was arrested on DWI and gun charges on a visit to Montreal. But Vallee, who had plastic surgery to his face, was released because he was not recognized and was using the name Guy Turner - from a toddler who died in 1961.


Canadian authorities realized they had let go one of their most notorious fugitives after checking the fingerprints. He was quickly rearrested by a special police unit.


McAvoy dismissed any notion that Vallee may be rehabilitated in prison and scolded him for placing "absolutely no emphasis on the value of the life of the decedent."


"All you thought about were your own personal interests, how to shut him up so he wouldn't put you in jeopardy and wouldn't put you in any danger of prosecution by New York or Canadian authorities," the judge said, "and you took his life in a vicious, sociopathic manner."


Vallee showed no emotion during Monday's hearing and made no statement. He shook the hand of his attorney, Terence L. Kindlon, before being led from court by federal marshals.








Brendan J. Lyons can be reached at 454-5547 or by e-mail at blyons@timesunion.com.