Guilty plea in 2009 Lower Mainland gang slaying

A man arrested in Ontario in the summer of 2018 has entered a guilty plea

Kevin LeClair was shot to death in Walnut Grove in Feburary 2009. (File photo)

A 38-year-old man arrested in Ontario for the 2009 murder of Kevin LeClair at a Walnut Grove shopping mall has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder.

Kreshnik Ismailaj was arrested in the summer of 2018, and today (Sept. 26) was in B.C. Supreme Court where he entered the guilty plea in the shooting death of LeClair, 26, in the Thunderbird Village shopping complex on Feb. 6, 2009.

“This guilty plea comes 10 years after the homicide of Mr. LeClair and speaks to the determination of IHIT investigators and dedication of our partners, CFSEU-BC and the B.C. Prosecution Service, to see an investigation through to the end no matter how long it may take,” said Supt. Dave Chauhan, Officer-in-Charge of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team. “These partnerships are key to ensuring a successful conclusion to events that impact the safety of our citizens throughout the Lower Mainland from our specialized units to our frontline officers.”

Ismailaj was initially charged with one count of first-degree murder mid-2018 when apprehended in Ontario. The courts have yet to impose sentencing for his role in the murder of LeClair, an Abbotsford resident.

“Kreshnik Ismailaj, along with a number of his fellow gang members, are responsible for an unprecedented level of gang violence in the history of British Columbia. The hundreds of officers and support staff, from dozens of police agencies and units, working the associated investigations have remained determined and committed over the years to ensuring that those responsible are brought to justice,” said Supt. Paul Dadwal, CFSEU-BC Operations Officer. “With this latest conviction and sentencing, it should, yet again, send the message to individuals involved in organized crime-related violence that police will relentlessly pursue justice, regardless of how long it takes.”

READ MORE: New charge in 2009 Langley gang murder

LeClair was gunned down in the early evening in front of numerous witnesses one of the brazen public shootings of the gang war between rival drug dealing organizations in 2008 and 2009.

Cory Vallee, a UN gang member, was convicted of first-degree murder last year in the death of LeClair, a member of the Red Scorpions gang. He was sentenced to life in prison in late 2018.

Vallee, 34 at the time of LeClair’s murder, had been hired as an assassin by the UN Gang as part of the violent drug turf war that raged through 2008 and ’09 in the Lower Mainland.

The UN Gang had targeted Jonathan, Jamie, and Jarrod Bacon – the Bacon Brothers – and their allies and associates in the Red Scorpions Gang, including LeClair. The Bacons and LeClair lived in Abbotsford at the time of the murder plot.

Formerly a bus driver in Whistler and a garbage collector in North Vancouver, Vallee had become involved with the UN Gang by early 2008, stalking and gathering intelligence on the gang’s enemies, according to Justice Janice Dillon’s sentencing ruling.

He was eventually fired from his job with North Vancouver after repeatedly failing to show up for work, as his hunt for rival gangsters consumed more of his time.

On the day of LeClair’s killing, Vallee stalked his victim all day and lay in wait for him outside a restaurant in the shopping plaza.

“Vallee had lots of time to pull back from the plan to kill as he waited in the parking lot of the mall for Leclair to come out of the restaurant. That he did not pull back is a chilling reminder of the capacity for violence in this man,” wrote Dillon in her sentencing ruling.

After the killing, he fled to Mexico but was extradicted to Canada in 2014.

The judge sentenced him to a second, concurrent term of life in prison for conspiracy to commit murder.

There is a $100,000 reward for the arrest of another person wanted in connection with the murder, Conor D’Monte.

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