Parole Board of Canada

Muzzo Granted Day Parole Showing ‘Improved Understanding of Alcohol Abuse’

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

The case of Marco Muzzo (“Muzzo”) returned to the headlines last week.  We have previously blogged about Muzzo’s impaired driving conviction.  After returning to Toronto on a private jet from his bachelor party in Miami, Muzzo was involved in a deadly motor vehicle accident while driving home to Woodbridge.  Muzzo, with blood-alcohol levels three times the legal limit to drive, drove through a stop sign and crashed into the driver’s side of a minivan killing three children and their grandfather, and injuring the children’s grandmother and great-grandmother.

Muzzo pleaded guilty in 2016 to four counts of impaired driving causing death, and two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm.  He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.  Last week he attended a parole board hearing before the Parole Board of Canada.

As we have previously blogged, Muzzo was denied parole in November 2018 as he had a “lack of understanding on the issue of impairment” and a December 2019 psychiatric assessment found that he did “not meet the diagnostic criteria for an alcohol or substance use disorder of any kind”.

THE PAROLE BOARD HEARING

Following a two day virtual parole board hearing, the Parole Board of Canada granted Muzzo day parole.  Given the COVID pandemic, victims of the crime were allowed to call into the parole hearings and present victim impact statements for Parole Board of Canada members to consider in their decision-making.

Muzzo originally only applied for day parole, however, due to the circumstances surrounding the pandemic he was encouraged by Correctional Service Canada to apply for full parole.  It was Muzzo’s plan to live with his fiancée and work out of his family business headquarters.  The parole board decided that he was not ready for this form of release and therefore denied his request for full parole. 

Alternatively, the parole board decided to grant Muzzo a gradual release, which they concludedwill allow you to test your newfound knowledge with a higher level of supervision, support and monitoring than full parole would provide at this juncture.  You will likely face serious reintegration stressors upon release.  You will have to demonstrate your ability to deal with your stress adequately prior to consideration for full parole.”

The parole board reported that Muzzo’s behaviour while incarcerated has been “appropriate”.  Muzzo has completed two six-month periods of escorted absences from prison for community service.  He has undergone five urinalyses and none of them have returned positive for any banned substances.

Muzzo has undergone substance abuse counseling and the board found that he had improved his understanding of alcohol abuse. 

The parole board reported:

You indicated that it had helped to strengthen your resolve to abstain from alcohol and to be the best person you could be, not being consumed by what others thought of you and how you had to prove yourself to them.

The parole board accepted that Muzzo was a low risk to reoffend given the support from his parole officer, his strong community network, supportive family, friends, co-workers and a fiancée, and a commitment from his addictions counsellor to continue with treatment upon his release.   

The decision stated:

The Board notes that you have a strong community network, with many family members, friends and co-workers actively expressing their support for you.  Your fiancée is known to be a strong support and has continued to visit you often and participated in daily phone calls.  You have mostly lived a pro-social and productive life.

In a statement issued by the law firm that represented Muzzo, he apologized to the family of the victims and stated:

I ruined their lives and I take full responsibility for what I have done.  I always will.  I was careless and irresponsible when I made the choice to drink and drive.  There is no way that I can undo the damage that I have caused.  I will live with this for the rest of my life.

PAROLE CONDITIONS

While on day parole, Muzzo will be housed in an undisclosed halfway house and will work as a general labourer with his family’s company.

According to the conditions of Muzzo’s day parole, he is forbidden from driving for 12 years following his release; he must stay away from members of the victims’ families and sites of memorials for 6 months; he is barred from entering the city of Brampton, King City community or the town of Aurora without permission from his parole officer; he must meet with a mental health professional; he must stay away from establishments that derive primary revenue from alcohol and not buy, possess or drink alcohol.

If you have been charged with impaired driving or a driving offence of any kind or have any questions regarding your legal rights, please contact the knowledgeable criminal lawyers at Affleck & Barrison LLP online or at 905-404-1947.  We offer a 24-hour phone service to protect your rights and to ensure that you have access to justice at all times.  Trust our experienced criminal lawyers to handle your defence with diligence, strategy and expertise.

Parole Board of Canada Under Scrutiny After Convicted Killer Allegedly Kills Again

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

A federal investigation has been launched to examine the Parole Board of Canada following charges laid against a convicted murderer who had been out on day parole.  A Canadian parole board granted a convicted murderer supervised release on day parole and gave permission for him to avail himself of the services of prostitutes at a Montreal erotic massage parlour.  He has now been charged with second-degree murder and questions about why he was granted permission to seek sexual satisfaction have not yet been answered.

WHAT HAPPENED?

Eustachio Gallese (“Gallese”) was found to have beaten his wife with a hammer before stabbing her to death with two knives on October 21, 2004.  In 2006, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole for 15 years for the murder of his wife. 

Prior to this incident, in 1997, Gallese was also convicted of sexual assault against a romantic partner.

In 2007, the parole board concluded that Gallese was at “high risk” of violently re-offending. 

In 2016, the parole board reduced Gallese’s status of re-offending to “moderate” and further dropped it to “low to moderate” in 2019. 

In March of 2019, according to parole board documents, Gallese was granted supervised release on day parole at a halfway house based on his good behaviour.

Gallese was required to adhere to several conditions, including to report any relationships with women (sexual or otherwise) and he was forbidden to consume drugs or alcohol.

Gallese apparently discussed his concern about relations with women with his case workers.  Parole board records indicate the he was encouraged by his case workers to satisfy his “sexual needs” and was allowed to meet women “only for the purpose of responding to [his] sexual needs”.   

The parole board’s decision stated:

During the hearing, your parole officer underlined a strategy that was developed with the goal that would allow you to meet women in order to meet your sexual needs.  The hearing allowed us to realize you managed, and this with the approval of your case-management team, relations with women that the board considers inappropriate. 

The parole board found that the strategy “paradoxically constitutes a worrying and significant risk factor” and ordered that Gallese be re-evaluated for the terms of his parole in six months.

Two months prior to Gallese’s re-evaluation date, he turned himself in to police and told them where to find the body of Marylene Levesque (“Levesque”).  Her body was found in a hotel room in Quebec City’s Sainte-Foy neighbourhood.

Levesque had been working out of an erotic massage parlour.  Gallese had been banned from entering the massage parlour as he had been violent with other women, therefore he and Levesque met at a hotel.

Gallese has been charged with second-degree murder.

THE GOVERNMENT’S REACTION TO THE TRAGEDY

Last week, the House of Commons unanimously passed a motion to condemn the Parole Board of Canada’s decision with respect to Gallese, which ultimately led to the death of Levesque by an inmate on day parole.

The motion also passed to allow the Public Safety Committee to conduct hearings and review changes made in 2017 to the parole board’s nomination process and recommend measures that need to be taken to avoid another “tragedy”.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has also confirmed that a federal investigation has begun “to deal with any issues of misconduct, negligence or error, but also to examine our policies, procedures and training that direct the work of the Parole Board and others involved in these decisions”.

Conservatives Pierre Paul-Hus and Glen Motz also condemned the parole board’s decision and stated:

[A] convicted murderer, with a history of domestic violence, out on day parole so that he could meet women in order to address his sexual needs. … The Liberal appointed Parole Board members demonstrated a clear lack of judgment in this case and must face consequences.

THE CRIMINALIZATION OF SEX WORK

This latest example of violence against a sex worker has reignited the debate regarding the criminalization of sex work in Canada. 

Those that advocate for the decriminalization of sex workers believe that the violence facing sex workers is driven by the devalued status of sex workers and their lack of police protection.  Erotic massage parlours must operate illicitly because clients and those that run, manage and work in the establishments (including security guards) are criminalized under Canadian law.  If violence does occur in these establishments, they are unable to report it to authorities due to the risk of criminal charges. 

We will continue to follow the developments regarding the federal investigation and review of the Parole Board of Canada, as well as any government reaction to those that call for the decriminalization of sex work in Canada, and will report any updates in this blog.

In the meantime, if you have been charged with a criminal offence or have any questions regarding your legal rights, please contact the experienced criminal lawyers at Affleck & Barrison LLP online or at 905-404-1947.  We offer a 24-hour phone service to protect your rights and to ensure that you have access to justice at all times.  We are available when you need us most.