Convicted underworld hitman Charles Gagne was given a two-month unescorted leave of absence from an Ontario prison to the GTA, where he murdered boxer Eddie Melo and his friend Jaoa (Johnny) Pavao two decades ago.
“The offender will leave the institution at 9 a.m. on May 18, 2022 to travel, independently, to a specified location in Toronto, Ontario,” states a parole board document obtained by Star.
The document does not provide the specific location of Toronto.
It continues: “The offender will return to the Beaver Creek Institution at 4 p.m. on July 17, 2022.”
Gagne, 49, murdered Melo and Pavao during a day pass from an Ottawa-area halfway house on April 6, 2001. He was in custody at the time for robbing a grocery store with a machine gun.
Gagne shot Melo to death in the parking lot of a social club near Hurontario Street and the QEW for the promise of $75,000. Gagne previously testified that Pavao was killed because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, in a vehicle with Melo.
Gagne was sentenced to life in prison in 2003 after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. He became eligible for parole after 12 years.
His criminal history also includes convictions for aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, and a variety of driving, property, weapons, and drug and breach of trust offenses.
Gagne, a former gym worker, told the parole board earlier this year that he was never officially in the Hells Angels program, though he did move around in biker circles. “I’ve worked for them, but I haven’t been a real soldier for them,” Gagne said, adding that he, too, was not a member of the mob.
He testified at a previous parole hearing that he is a different man from when he murdered Melo and Pavao.
The board heard that he married a GTA woman who runs an online dating service for convicts while in custody.
“I just want to talk to prosocial people,” he said, adding, “I think money is the root of all evil.”
The parole board document obtained by Star states that Gagne must return to an approved location each night.
He is ordered to stay within Toronto city limits and is prohibited from associating or communicating with “any person he knows or has reason to believe is involved in criminal activity” or any of his victims or members of their families.
You are also prohibited from consuming, purchasing, or possessing alcohol or drugs, other than prescription medications, and you must also provide financial information.
Gagne previously told the parole board that he was motivated by a need to move up in the underworld when he agreed to murder Melo, who was once the Toronto driver for now-deceased Montreal mobster Santos (Frank) Cotroni.
He burst into tears when he said he felt sorry for the families of the victims. “I became a monster over the years,” she said. “Those were my choices. I am deeply saddened by what I have done to them.”
During that hearing, three members of the Melo family pleaded with the board to keep Gagne behind bars, or at least away from them at the GTA.
“Please protect us and others,” Melo’s daughter, Elise Melo, then 32, told the board at a February 2021 hearing, reminding them that Gagne said at a previous hearing that she learned about cheating while in prison.
“Gagne said he learned to play the game, play the system from seasoned convicts,” Elise Melo said. “This is not a game… My dad is gone forever.”
Jessica Melo, another of Melo’s daughters, said at an earlier parole hearing that she was “completely in disbelief” that her father’s killer had a chance to be turned over to the GTA.
“It feels like a cruel joke, like a big punch to the stomach,” he said. “He executed my dad like he was killing a rabid dog.”
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