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Chops back in business after second arson attack
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 1er novembre 2012

Photo courtesy of Isaac Nahon

The Chops Resto-bar located in the Snowdon district was slated to reopen after over a week of renovations.

The Chops steak-and-sushi restaurant at 5322 Queen Mary Rd. in Snowdon district was firebombed for the second time in two years during the wee hours of morning on Oct. 18.

In a similar incident on June 8, 2011 someone hurled a Molotov cocktail into the restaurant located near Décarie Blvd. around 3:15 a.m.

“I don’t know what would be the reason,” said the manager. Isaac Nahon isn’t about to let these acts of violence deter him from carrying on business. “Our job is to clean up and come back even stronger,” he said in an interview with Les Actualités.

The front windows of the two-year-old restaurant were smashed and an incendiary object (probably a Molotov cocktail) was hurled inside. According to police reports two men wearing balaclavas fled after the 4 a.m. mischief.

The fire department was called but the blaze quickly died out. Water from the sprinkler system caused extensive damage but no one was injured.

Quebec’s business registry lists Nathalie Ohayon and Yael Amsellem as shareholders of Chops, and Isaac Nahon as president, all of Côte St. Luc.

“We are not sure if these were acts of anti-Semitism or if we were targeted by competitors. This is the first time that there’s such an upscale kosher restaurant in Montreal. We cater to the Jewish community, but we also serve our 40% non-kosher clientele,” he said.

This was the third of four fires set in Montreal businesses over three days in the middle of the month. Police and experts are unable to say if they are related.

On Oct. 17 someone set fires in two Mile End cafés. At 6 a.m. the Prime Time Bar at 5008 Parc just north of St. Joseph was firebombed. At 6:35 a.m. the Ciociaro Café at 52 St. Viateur West at the corner of Clark was also set on fire.

On Oct. 19 an “incendiary object” was hurled through the window of the Kardiologik fitness centre shortly before 5 a.m. at 7345 St. Laurent Blvd. north of de Castelnau close to the Little Italy district.

The Quebec Business Register shows that one of the two owners of the Ciociaro Café is also the owner of the Ciociaro Bar & Grill on Langelier Blvd. in St. Leonard. Police have reportedly seen members of Italian organized crime groups hanging out there in the past, according to David Santerre of La Presse on Oct. 17.

Crips members settling debts

On Oct. 22, 2012 Sébastien Calixte, a Canadian citizen of Haitian origin, pleaded guilty to three arson charges related to the fire at Peaches Bar on Oct. 28, 2009 on St. Michel St. that caused more than $9,000 in damages.

He received a 36-month prison sentence, of which he has already served 31 months in preventive detention. The 23-year-old acted as a member of the Crips street gang in Montreal.

Montreal police have heard enough testimony to know that, between Sept. 2009 and Jan. 2010, 18 Italian cafés in the city’s northern districts were set on fire by people described in most, if not all the cases, as drug dealers or people with drug problems who acted as arsonists to settle outstanding debts.

Luckenson Desgraves, 28, was acting as an intermediary between the man who ordered the two fires set on October 28, and three other people who helped set them, including Calixte.

Desgraves testified that he sent 10 text messages to a man he described as a drug dealer and a pimp.

Police had recovered a cell phone left by Desgraves at the scene of the Peaches Bar crime. It contained conversations with Calixte.

On June 12 Desgraves was sentenced to two years in prison.

[ Marie Cicchini ]

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