NATIONAL

Terror hoax fugitive back behind bars

MICHAEL FRISCOLANTI March 10 2008
NATIONAL

Terror hoax fugitive back behind bars

MICHAEL FRISCOLANTI March 10 2008

Terror hoax fugitive back behind bars

MICHAEL FRISCOLANTI

Two years

ago, a frightening fax arrived at the Ottawa headquarters of the RCMP’s national security squad: “Hi am a Muslim and i have information on Islamic terrorist cell operating in Vancouver BC.” Riddled with spelling mistakes, the anonymous note disclosed the names and addresses of three men “plotting to blow up” the Danish and American consulates in the Lower Mainland. The Mounties took immediate action—surveillance teams, bomb-sniffing dogs, extra security outside the consulates—and within days, officers had traced the fax to an email address used at a Vancouver Internet café.

That’s when the RCMP realized the truth: they weren’t chasing terrorists. They were chasing a terrorist imposter.

After his arrest, Lome Lapoleon confessed. The 25-year-old homeless man told police that the trio named in his fax were petty criminals who deserved to be “checked out.” But the terrorism link was a lie, he said, a desperate attempt to catch the cops’ attention.

It did. Lapoleon was charged with “perpetrating a terrorist hoax,” and on Oct. 2, he became the first person in Canada convicted of that offence. Unfortunately, he wasn’t in court to hear the verdict. He managed to skip town a few weeks earlier.

Today, Lapoleon is back in jail—thanks to his own penchant for petty crime. Strangely enough, the RCMP has not publicized his arrest. But Maclean’s has learned that two

weeks before Christmas, he was caught shoplifting at a mall in north Toronto and flown back to B.C.

The only question left to answer is how long Lapoleon will stay behind bars. His lawyer has asked for a fivemonth sentence, while the Crown wants at least two years. “There are a limited number of people who have

the expertise and the wherewithal to investigate terrorist threats, and they can’t be tracted,” says prosecutor Ron Beram. this particular case was a significant distraction.” And a pricey one. The investigation taxpayers at least $100,000—not to mention Lapoleon’s plane ticket home. M