Being Uncle Charlie took its toll on former undercover cop Bob Deasy
Life as an undercover police operative isn’t easy—particularly for those who infiltrate outlaw motorcycle gangs and organized criminal gangs.
That’s an inescapable conclusion from former Ontario Provincial Police officer Bob Deasy’s new book about his 23-year career, Being Uncle Charlie: A Life Undercover with Killers, Kingpins, Bikers and Druglords (Random House Canada).
“Your whole life takes a distant second to undercover,” Deasy said in a recent interview at the Georgia Straight office. “Unfortunately, when you get into it and good at it—and then immersed in it—you can’t afford to be away from it. Of course, that comes with the sacrifice of home and family. And then with that, you run the jeopardy of exhausting what relationships you do have. Eventually, people move on, usually without you.”
He describes in the book how he gained the trust of the Outlaws motorcycle gang and Russian and Italian Mafia leaders in Ontario before taking them down.
He had to go into character to pull this off, spending an inordinate amount of time with his police colleagues and his quarry.
While stationed in Thunder Bay, Deasy and his fellow cops all kept apartments in the same complex. His was the largest, so it became their de facto clubhouse.
Eventually, his wife said she didn’t want to see them in their home ever again. From there, he writes, things went downhill.
When asked what he hoped to accomplish by writing the book, Deasy responded: “It was a way of letting my friends—close friends and family—know where I was for those 20 years… Because, quite frankly, they had no idea—let alone where I was, but what I was doing.”
He said that his takedown of a Russian organized-crime family was particularly hard because it came near the end of his career as an undercover officer.
He was the first Canadian cop to penetrate the Russian mob, and in the book he describes the head of the gang as “a bloodless, sadistic Ed Asner”.
“They were extremely rich, and all lived in separate houses on the same circular cul-de-sac that functioned as a private compound,” Deasy writes. “They were the most selfish people I’d ever met in my twenty years of socializing with sociopaths and murderers.”
They were abusive to women. They were also rude to waiters in restaurants. And dinner bills routinely topped $5,000 for four.
“They were a really tough nut to crack, and I did love the challenge,” Deasy told the Straight. “But I was getting really tired and impatient.”
At one point in the interview, he looked out the window and spotted a brown Porsche on West Broadway.
“When I see things like that parked there, it brings back two memories,” he said. “I’m glad I’m not driving that anymore—the Porsche—and then I’m wondering, ‘Boy, it would be fun to drive that again.’ ”
He also devotes a chapter in his book to the times he played the role of Mr. Big to trick suspected murderers into giving away details about their crimes.
Deasy revealed that he received a far better adrenaline rush obtaining murder confessions than he ever did buying a kilo of cocaine.
“I’d go right back through the entire murder and ask extremely poignant questions as, you know, ‘What did you do to them? Where did you go? What did you do with your clothes? The knife? The gun? The axe?’ ” Deasy recalled. “And then the police were able to act on that in conjunction with the confession. So I felt extremely satisfied with the outcomes. And quite frankly in an undercover career, it was the most rewarding.”
He stated that police forces in Canada are making progress against outlaw motorcycle gangs. That’s because law-enforcement personnel are utilizing technology and sharing information with each other.
He contrasted that to when he first became a police officer—it was an era when cops didn’t spend a lot of time talking to members in other forces.
Being Uncle Charlie includes some mild criticisms of the RCMP, which is described as a rigid police force that refuses to share information and craves the media spotlight.
“The RCMP are incapable of adapting or evolving,” Deasy claims in the book, “so they become the worst thing you can be when dealing with criminals: predictable.”
When asked if Lower Mainland residents should be concerned if they live in a jurisdiction policed by the Mounties, he backed off somewhat.
“I mean, the things I was professionally jousting with the RCMP are things that we’ve professionally jousted about since the day policing started,” Deasy said. “I don’t think the people of B.C. or anywhere else for that matter—East Coast to the West—has any concerns. Sometimes in specific undercover work, like I did, it’s a lot easier to roll, as it were, as a small group as opposed to [being in] a large group.”