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‘I have never extorted anyone,' former Thunder Bay mayor says during videotaped statement with OPP

A videotaped statement between Keith Hobbs and an OPP inspector became heated at times, with Hobbs becoming angry at the extortion allegations, saying he had nothing to gain
Keith Hobbs. (file).

Warning: This story contains graphic language. 

THUNDER BAY - After learning that he was a suspect on the charge of extortion, Keith Hobbs became visibly angry, calling the allegations complete ‘bullshit,’ and said he would never extort anyone and was only trying to help victims of a possible crime.

“Do you honestly think I’m that stupid and would leave myself out to extort somebody?” Hobbs said during a video statement with police. “What’s the gain? What’s the criminal intent for me?”

“You can throw all the bullshit you want, it’s not sticking.”

During Day 8 of the extortion trial against Keith and Marisa Hobbs and local resident, Mary Voss, the court was shown a videotaped statement with Keith Hobbs and Ontario Provincial Police Det. Insp. Martin Graham recorded in March 2017.

Graham, a 26-year veteran with the OPP and most recently serving as acting director with the rank of superintendent of the Criminal Investigation Branch, was the lead investigator in the case and is the Crown’s last witness.

In the nearly two-hour videotaped statement, Hobbs becomes visibly angry, swearing and yelling at Graham and calling the charges unbelievable.

“You know what, go f... yourself,” Hobbs said to Graham at one point during the interview. “This interview is over. Charge me. Charge me. I’m going to sue your ass off.”

Throughout the video, Graham questions Hobbs about his involvement with the alleged victim and the agreement Hobbs drafted for the purchase of a house for Voss.

In the statement, Hobbs recalls the first meeting with the alleged victim to discuss a business matter. While at the victim’s residence, Hobbs describes his behavior as vile and intoxicated.

“My wife and I were shocked and we got up to leave,” Hobbs said. “He told us to sit down. He is very demanding. He was basically screaming at us to sit down. My whole policing career I wanted to clobber him.”

Hobbs also recalled visiting the victim’s residence after being told there were firearms there. He advised the victim, who said the firearms were already there when he purchased the house, that he should turn the firearms into police. Hobbs added during the interview that he was concerned the victim was in possession of firearms given his behavior and interactions with Voss.

Over time, Hobbs said he learned of possible physical assaults on Voss and tried to get her to go to the police, but she refused because of past bad experiences with authorities in Ghana.

“I have never extorted anyone,” Hobbs said. “I never would. I am a decorated police officer. My wife and I got Mary to police finally. She didn’t want to go to the police. She was afraid of the police.”

Last week, the alleged victim testified that Keith and Marisa Hobbs approached him for a loan of up to $300,000 because they were in a dire financial state.

While Hobbs admitted to Graham that he was struggling financially, he claimed it was the victim who offered him a loan, as well as two cheques for $10,000.

“I tore it up in pieces and told him we didn’t want his money,” Hobbs said. “He was so insistent. You gotta know this guy, he writes another cheque, I actually wrote it. We took it home. My wife voided it. We returned that cheque to him in that condition.”

Following the victim’s arrest on Nov. 20, 2016, Hobbs said he was made aware that the victim told the arresting officers that this was all because of the mayor, as well as a letter sent to a local lawyer where the victim writes Hobbs will regret the day he was born.

Hobbs stated throughout the video with Graham that the entire situation has been a nightmare for him and Marisa and that they were ‘caught up in the middle of all this crap.’

He also said they were only trying to assist Voss, which is why they continued to associate with the victim.

When asked about the agreement to purchase a house and why he drafted it for the victim, Hobbs said it was not his best judgment and was stupid.

“He asked me to draft it,” Hobbs said. “Mary and (the victim) were already making a deal for a house. They asked me to draft it. Was it good judgment? No. Was it extortion? Absolutely not.”

Throughout the interview, Hobbs became increasingly more agitated and angry, telling Graham he was not doing his job properly and had tunnel vision and was convinced he had committed extortion.

Graham alluded to the alleged deal between Voss and the victim and that Hobbs may benefit financially from the purchase of a house.

“I have nothing to gain,” Hobbs said. “I have never had anything to gain from this. Nothing. Zero. This will get turfed out at a preliminary hearing. What evidence do you have? Do you have any money exchanging hands?”

“It’s quite obvious to me you want to charge me with extortion then I will sue your ass and the OPP and Thunder Bay Police,” Hobbs continued.

Hobbs was also asked repeatedly why he made three copies of the videos at the centre of the case that allegedly show the victim committing a crime, and why he gave one of the copies to Craig Loverin in a grocery store parking lot.

Hobbs said he did so to ensure they would not be lost and gave one to Loverin to show him the kind of person he was working for.

But Graham questioned him repeatedly why he did not take the videos directly to police.

“You are made aware of serious criminal allegations and you don’t report them?” Graham asked.

“Mary Voss was adamant she didn’t want to go to the police,” Hobbs said.

But Hobbs said he did go to the police five days after learning of the videos on Nov. 14. The alleged victim was arrested on Nov. 20.

“An extortionist phones the police,” Hobbs said. “Figure it out. That’s where I’m not getting this. I go to the police.”

Martin will continue his testimony on Thursday.

Complete coverage of Hobbs trial:

Day 1: Keith Hobbs trial starts today  

Witness testifies of interactions between Hobbs and alleged extortion victim

Day 2: Details of extortion allegations heard at Hobbs trial

Day 3: Videos from USB drive given by Hobbs shown in court 

Day 4: Alleged extortion victim calls behaviour in videos horrid and awful 

'Pack your toothbrush' Hobbs alleged warned extortion victim 

Day 5: Alleged extortion victim trying to ‘buy silence:’ Greenspan

Day 6: Alleged extortion victim believes Voss was ‘swayed’ by Keith and Marisa Hobbs

Witness testifies of agreement signed between alleged extortion victim and accused

Day 7: More details emerge of alleged victim’s state in fall 2016 and the discovery of a will

Day 8: Homeowner testifies of Marisa Hobbs and Voss viewing $429,000 home

Doug Diaczuk

About the Author: Doug Diaczuk

Doug Diaczuk is a reporter and award-winning author from Thunder Bay. He has a master’s degree in English from Lakehead University
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