This narrative is about most likely the greatest antigambling police inquiries during its entire history in York. It begins at the glorious mansion which lies in of the most beautiful cities of Ontario in the Regional Municipality of York – Markham. Unfortunately, it never became a case with the successful raid on an underfloor casino.
About the Mansion
A giant stone monster of glitter, luxuriance and vicious taste has taken a foothold on a plot area by sizes at a minimum of two-acre on a cozy, safe and beautiful boulevard well-known in Markham as 5 Decourcy Court in the immediate vicinity of Major Mackenzie Road. This breath-taking building comes with a habitable surface of twenty thousand square feet for sure comes at a great cost. The mansion has eight homey furnished bedrooms along with ample kitchens and sixteen spacious comfortable bathrooms. There is also a badly needed elevator and a fascinating roomy ballroom on its vast expanse. Among other things, the mansion can offer to visit a nice swimming pool and an awesome whirlpool. It is essential to recall that there is also a library and twenty-four allotted spaces. On the back of many possible costs for maintenance of infrastructure, its property taxes are close to $52,000 yearly.
Mansion’s exterior is a garish ahistorical insane mixture of different architectural expressions. Starting with mock-Regency couched in refined arched windows and columns performed in the style of neoclassicism, it boggles everyone’s mind with the roof whose creator was inspired by Italian palazzo. Entering the incredible giant front doors of this structure flanked with two decorative statues of baby elephants made of copper, people can lose sight because of the Kardashian-style fusion of rococo superfluity and the needs of tawdry modern celebrity.
These posh accommodations are in the ownership of a financially backed, the successful property developer of Chinese descent – Wei Wei. He took ownership of the above-described mansion at the address of 5 Decourcy Court in the year 2015. This high maintenance came at a price for him being specific – $4.7 million. The mansion was already full of lush details, starting with splendid gardens swept and garnished with impressive shrubbery and ending with dazzling gilded banisters and top-notch appliances all over the living space.
One would think that the only thing left to do was to chlorinate the pool, drive the cars to the parking spaces and put some gorgeous paint collection on the walls. But instead of that mundane routine, Wei Wei spent several months on large-scale expensive renovation works. The icing on the cake of the construction design approved by the province near upon thirty months after the acquisition was a huge septic sewage system. It was one of those huge systems intended for regular use in hotels with a large number of guests. Its capability is to treat around 12700 liters per day. Alas, it seems that Ontario government officials didn’t find any room for doubt in the apparently commercial sewage system for an owner-occupied dwelling.
According to the information reported by the Regional Police of York district, this gorgeous building on nice and peaceful Markham boulevard was not an acquisition for domestic life purposes. If police records are to be trusted, it was bought with a startlingly audacious goal – to organize on its territory a high-yielding surreptitious gambling den with a drinking establishment and amusement facility. This mansion became a face of the unregulated indulgence and connivance of authorities that can be bought by big money. The new living conditions caused by the pandemic placed special emphasis on the situation as well. The police sources said that 5 Decourcy Court was used as the venue for an orgy of illegal decadence over a span of many months. In July 2020, the police of York finally made a raid on the mansion. But the potential casino bust of the largest scale ever somehow turned into nothing, and the entire investigation collapsed with the shutter.
Wei Wei Story
His story originates with the largest city and also the capital of the landlocked Chinese province Anhui – Hefei. In the year 2004, Wei used to work at a construction firm on the verge of bankruptcy – Feidong Shuian. He was a hopeful young man occupying the position of project manager with high potential in a company that specialized in public water infrastructure. At that time, the Feidong Shuian company and its finances were in a sad condition. Over the matter of poor leadership and bitter rivalry on the world market, the company got sucked into the vortex of debt.
Living in Hefei
China’s economic miracle had not reached Hefei by that time. Its population was less than two million and, on a scale of the country standards, that was barely called a city. Over a countless number of years, Hefei was on the sidelines of history, untouched by any changes. Eras, periods, ages, and dynasties were following in sequence, the Cultural Revolution disturbances shocked China, but its economy had not moved an inch. Throughout the centuries, Wei Wei’s native land was a low-lived agrarian-oriented town. Hefei was always somewhere on the margins of progress, and Wei was just assuming the position of a middle-level manager. For his good fortune, he was a young man full of ambitious ideas in the right place at the right time. He elevated his position in the company and took over the responsibility for restructuring. Due to Wei’s efforts and decisive actions, the enterprise focused on new business lines: property development, land parceling, and construction. Wei moved the enterprise to the center of Hefei and restructured it into a brand new business that was named Anhui Tonji Construction Group. Relatively soon, he held the position of chairman.
Wei wasn’t just an ambitious businessman but also a reasonably prudent man with a calculating mind. He had a plan both for private life and business, and he espoused conformist views in these spheres of life. Wei was united in marriage with a woman Xiang Yue. Later the couple had a son and daughter. For years Wei succeeded in playing the role of a family guy, and local industry leader as Anhui Tonji Construction Group’s fortunes grew.
Wei was ready for a chance, and he finally got lucky around the time he launched Anhui Tonji Construction Group in Hefei. At that time, the Chinese government remembered this tiny city and decided to refresh and beautify it. Thousands of homes all over the city were condemned and then razed. In their place was built a brand new gorgeous glittering megapolis, and after such a great transformation, Hefei doubled its population in less than a decade. Wei’s company won a couple of major development contracts, and its earnest soared.
Moving to Canada
Meanwhile, Wei was already planning his leave from China. About ten years ago, he got a Canadian grant for entering the country. Most likely, Wei got it through the Immigrant Investor Program. It was a special program made for the attraction of wealthy foreigners to settle and invest in Canada. The applicants for such immigrant paths were required to demonstrate their net worth of at least $1.6 million. Also, there was an obligatory stipulation of the $800,000 investment over five years in that program that is collapsed now.
After moving to Toronto, Wei didn’t stop working hard, just the other way round, aspired to nail down his success. In concert with Xiang Yue, he purchased a mansion with nine bathrooms and six bedrooms. That real property on Woodland Acres Crescent in Vaughan cost Wei a lot of millions of dollars. Meanwhile, his wife Xiang Yue bore a hand in the purchase of a new Mercedes-Benz by her daughter. In a short span of time, Wei established himself as a property developer. For now, he is running a couple of investment firms with a cosmic connotation in their names: Skywalk and Starryway. He is in possession of several luxury residences and two huge hotels, including one in Markham – the Edward Hotel. This place was purchased approximately for $75 million in cooperation with his business partner, a property magnate from Vancouver named Yongtao Chen. Xiang Yue also takes part in her husband’s business. She is known to be a director of at least two of Wei’s companies.
Through his company named Tondream, Wei acquired a 92-acre land parcel. One of his biggest properties is placed near Stouffville, with a short stroll to the Lincolnville GO stop. Wei paid $50 million for this swath of land and transformed it into a housing estate. It was called Elm Villa and marketed as “a major new master-planned community” full of green spaces with easy access to nearby trails and parks. The development was oriented toward seniors in search of downsize and first-time buyers. For now, Elm Villa features mid-rise apartment buildings and townhouses.
As a far-sighted and experienced businessman, Wei wasn’t just raising money in his new country. He was also developing a business reputation and establishing connections. One of the most spectacular examples is his joint photo with Justin Trudeau. Wei was caught on camera with the prime minister of Canada at a Liberal fundraising event attended by influential benefactors. But it wasn’t the only meeting of theirs. Later Wei met separately with Trudeau on a delegation representing a Chinese industry. A feature element of that meeting was that one of the delegation members donated $1 million to the Université de Montréal Faculty of Law and the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.
Mackenzie No. 5
Police alleged that Wei started the transformation of the mansion into a pompous club for private members just a few years after the great real estate purchase at 5 Decourcy. One of Wei’s associates even posted a few recruitment advertisements on the Web forum popular among Chinese students in Toronto – YorkBBS. Those staff recruitment adverts, starting from the very first one, were targeting only comeliness young women. Based on the text of the advertisements, Wei was looking for young beauties with great skills in communication for PR and marketing purposes of the high-end clubhouse.
A gorgeous mansion on a quiet Markham boulevard near Major Mackenzie Road at 5 Decourcy Court opened its doors in November 2019. Obviously, the opening was accompanied by the luxury, pomp and pageantry lavish party. According to the embossed invitation cards, it was not just a social event but an exclusive opening cocktail party for privates of the club “Mackenzie No. 5.” In accordance with the information gained by the anonymous source, which was among the guests at Wei’s party, some politicians were on the invitation list that day. According to police sources, the mansion was equipped with its own restaurant. So, apart from the $1.5 million worth of alcohol, there was a menu of traditional Chinese cuisine with such miraculous seafood delicacies as braised shark fins.
Even though Mackenzie No. 5 club positioned itself as an exclusive club for private members only, the police found out that it was one of the enormous numbers of illegal gambling places on the outskirts of Toronto. It became clear in the first half of 2020 when Toronto city retreated into Covid lockdown, and the police increased surveillance over the places where people used to gather. Professional casino furnishings, like gamble-oriented tables, were installed in the mansion, and a staff of skilled practitioners was hired to run all the processes. The main ballroom at Mackenzie No. 5 was decorated in the style of a Vegas hotel, with Roulette, Texas hold ’em, mah-jong and baccarat tables at which guests were gambling on enormously high stakes – $20,000 per hand! Lower stake gambling embodied in blinking slot machines was mixed up with cryptocurrency games and placed in a windowless basement.
Also, according to the police statement, there was an arsenal of firearms on the territory of the mansion. Most likely, two on-site gun safes full of semi-automatics guns were some kind of insurance. Such a conclusion can be made because casinos and especially underground gambling facilities are simple and usual robbery targets. In addition to the weapons, Mackenzie No. 5 was equipped with an extensive surveillance security system. Also, the mansion was guarded by three former wrestlers. It is clear from the surveillance footage made by Police in the summer of 2020 that those heavies used to entertain themselves by practicing piledrivers on the front lawn. Having an abundance of evidence, York police reckoned on an easy case with a fast conviction. But contrary to all expectations, they were wrong.
One Affable Cop
Superintendent Michael Slack of York Regional Police is a kind officer in his early 50s with a laid-back demeanor and a self-deprecating sense of humor. With his button-down police shirt, he wears rectangular spectacles and a pressed black tie. He appears to be the type of guy you’d choose to handle your financial portfolio rather than one who oversees highly armed SWAT squads breaking into mafia kingpins’ hideouts. He’s been with the force for 32 years, half of which he spent investigating organized crime and serving on long secondments with the RCMP.
Superintendent Slack turned his attention to the mansion in spring 2020 after several complaints that were brought to his notice at the height of the first lockdown. Something strange was going on at that mansion on Markham’s outskirts. He got a lot of calls from people on the street, dog walkers, and runners. Delivery vehicles were seen slipping in and out of the mansion’s gates, as well as cartons of what seemed to be food and wine being put inside. Every light in the 53-room house shone brightly at night, peering through the heavy, drawn drapes. In the front drive, a convoy of expensive automobiles was frequently parked. The gates were manned by security guards, and uniformed personnel appeared to arrive and depart in shifts. At strange hours, a procession of guests, too many to be from a single family, came and went. People frolicked and mingled in swimming suits around the pool on hot days. Local observers were naturally bothered with the disturbance of pandemic restrictions, despite the fact that the location was not creating any official disruption. Neighbors would have likely gone unreported if the high social activity at 5 Decourcy had occurred at regular hours. The mansion was tucked away from the street and its affluent neighbors, who, like Wei and his family, liked to be alone. However, the spring of 2020 was not a typical season. The city of Toronto has gone into lockdown for the first time. Neighbors who were judging each other were spying on each other. The police are normally wary of getting involved in minor neighborhood squabbles, but the accusations about Wei’s home instantly aroused the suspicion of Superintendent Michael Slack.
The case against 5 Decourcy Project Endgame would be drawn up by Slack and his team. According to him, that case was part of project Double Down, a far wider investigation into illicit gambling in the York Region. While physical crime and robbery decreased dramatically during the Covid shutdown, illicit gaming increased dramatically. Slack’s squad had already busted six underground casinos in Markham and Vaughan alone by the time they heard about the 5 Decourcy, they’ve already recovered more than $20,000 in cash, gaming tables, and slot machines from a commercial unit on Midland Avenue. When legitimate casinos closed, compulsive gamblers were left with nowhere to turn, therefore underground casinos sprung up to fill the void. Slack stated that they’d caught thirty illicit casinos in households, small business areas, and plazas since the start of the pandemic.
Superintendent realized what was going on inside 5 Decourcy after only a few hours of monitoring. They checked the guests’ license plates, which instantly confirmed their suspicions. Police were aware of some of the rich attendees, according to Slack, because of their ties to illicit gaming. Slack indicated he expected firearms to be inside the mansion, so stopping in for a talk was out of the question. It had to be a set-up. It wasn’t even required to conduct a wiretap since the violations were so blatant. Slack chose to streamline the process by requesting an illegal-gaming warrant instead. Even still, he and his team need further proof, preferably in the form of first-hand witness statements. Flipping one of the visitors may be tough or, worse, dangerous for that civilian. So, Slack thought over the alternatives.
And it was found right at Decourcy Court – a very broad, curving street with only a few homes spaced out on multi-acre lots. Major Mackenzie connects both ends of the street; there is no other way in or out. It was a convenient setup for commuters and, as it turned out, York cops. Slack and his crew set up RIDE sobriety-testing checkpoints just a few hundred meters apart in May 2020. They’d pulled over many fancy automobiles leaving the party at 5 Decourcy during the early hours of the morning. They gave the drivers breathalyzer tests and discovered that several of them were over the legal limit, which was predictable. They then inquired as to what they had done that night.
One of the first drivers said that he had just gone to his friend’s club to play cards. The officers had to clarify to them that during the lockdown social gatherings of any type were forbidden and that gambling or purchasing alcohol in an unregistered facility was forbidden. Some of the visitors were absolutely perplexed as if they had no idea what they were doing wrong. More questions about the evening were asked, and replies were easy to get. After a few days of informal conversations during a few RIDE stops York cops thought they’d gotten all the evidence they needed for a warrant for the biggest casino bust in the history of the region.
That’s how the police found out that drinking wasn’t the only fun offered to the guests at the mansion. There was also an ability to play such games as Blackjack, Caribbean Stud Poker, Immersive Roulette, Platinum VIP Blackjack, Speed Roulette, and a bunch of slots like Tiki Tumble, Red Hot Reels, 9 Masks of Fire and Midas Golden Touch.
This is how it went down, according to the police. York police planned to raid the home one afternoon in late July, with support from the OPP and Durham Regional Police—a total of 92 tactical officers and 32 investigators were there. A helicopter buzzed overhead once or twice, surveying the situation from a long-lens camera with a two-mile range, while police prepared to raid the spot. The chopper soon returned with reports that a family party was taking place around the pool that afternoon. A barbeque had been organized for parents and children, with uniformed employees distributing food and refreshments. Slack was concerned that it may be a work party or a child’s birthday. The danger to citizens was much too great. He grudgingly ordered his officers to stand down and called the raid off.
The officers surrounded the residence in the early evening a few days later. As clueless security guards fought like dogs on the grass just after dark, scores of armed cops invaded the premises on foot. The officers failed to ring the doorbell. The burst was “truly mind-blowing,” according to Slack. He and his police have stormed casinos previously, but none had seen anything like the luxury on display at Mackenzie No. 5, he claimed.
The Night, the Case and the Failure
That night, 38 individuals were detained, with 23 of them facing charges. Wei, his wife, and their daughter were subsequently apprehended at their Woodland Acres Crescent house. The remainder of the defendants were described as workers or gamblers on the charging sheet. The authorities claim they gathered a treasure mine of evidence over many hours, including professional gaming equipment, eleven weapons, and over $1 million in cash. They next searched Wei’s residence in Vaughan, where they discovered another $100,000 in cash. Wei’s family faced significant accusations, including operating an illegal gambling establishment and possessing stolen property.
Wei Dong, a guy considered to be Wei Wei’s main partner, was one of the numerous people arrested. Wei Dong was born in Beijing and immigrated to Canada with his family when he was ten years old. He faced allegations of possessing illegal firearms and operating an illegal gambling establishment.
The case against Wei appeared to be strong at the time of his detention. The officers conducted a victory lap, making the most of the attention. They tweeted about the bust and produced a slickly edited sizzle reel of it on their YouTube page. Slack even conducted a news conference outside the house gates, showing confidence while fielding questions from the press, the gaudy splendor of 5 Decourcy providing a dramatic background.
However, while the cops were counting their chickens in the suburbs, project Endgame’s eggs began to crack in the city. Wei hired Danielle Robitaille as his defense attorney shortly after the raid. Robitaille is well known as a protégé of Marie Henein, with whom she successfully defended Jian Ghomeshi, and as one of the country’s toughest criminal litigators. Robitaille rapidly recruited a team of associates for the Wei case, including a ringer from outside the firm: Jake Shen, a detective turned litigator who speaks Mandarin well.
According to people close to Wei, he has always maintained that the claims leveled against him are false. The first thing Wei’s defense team saw was that Slack’s team had photographed Wei’s retainer agreement with Robitaille at his house in Vaughan, which was a violation of his attorney-client privilege. Wei further claimed that following the raid, two of his high-end watches, a $300,000 Patek Philippe and a $150,000 Jaeger-LeCoultre, went stolen. The most damaging of Wei’s claims was that a pistol holster confiscated from his Decourcy bedroom was a fake, according to the authorities. Wei assumed the authorities had hidden it in his home in order to link him to the firearms accusations, which may result in a prison sentence. The initial search of Wei’s bedroom on film reveals nothing behind the door outside the linen closet, which is where police said they located the holster. Instead, in a subsequent search 17 hours later, this piece of proof appeared as if by magic.
The attorneys compared the evidentiary files supplied in disclosure from the Crown with the time-stamped footage of the products seized on the night of the bust to investigate the theft accusations. The timepieces are readily evident in the initial search of Wei’s bedroom at 5 Decourcy. They’re also visible in the time-stamped photos. However, they aren’t visible in a later video. The timepieces were never packed or numbered, according to Robitaille’s crew. York police were unable to account for their whereabouts when their disappearance was brought to the attention of the Crown. According to Slack, the police had no reason to take the watches because there was no evidence that they were stolen. The watches had not arrived as of early July 2021, and the case was still being investigated.
These inconsistencies, taken together, put severe doubt on what had otherwise appeared to be a solid case, one that the cops had been bragging about for months. To make matters worse, this wasn’t the first time the cops on Slack’s squad had been accused of improper behavior. One case under their competence crashed down when the defense claimed that York police had illegally taped confidential discussions between the defendants and their attorneys.
In Wei’s case, Robitaille had expressed her dissatisfaction with the police conduct to the assistant Crown attorneys prosecuting the case, accompanied by photographic evidence to back up her claim. The Crown requested that the claims be examined in a letter to York Regional Police. So it was Robitaille’s time to be arrogant when she filed a formal complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director. She outlined a laundry list of claims that she believes the agency should investigate independently.
It was only a matter of days until the case vanished. Wei Wei decided to sign a two-year common-law peace bond, which Robitaille immediately secured for her client. It’s a commitment to the court that, in exchange for the charges being dropped, he will follow the law and not engage in illicit gambling or join a “common gaming house.” Wei faces a special fine of $500,000.00 if he violates these terms. He agreed to forgo his portion of the proceeds from the sale of 5 Decourcy, which Wei had advertised for $10 million and lay no claim to the guns and cash found in the gun safe. (However, the cops were obliged to return all of his liquor.) Wei’s wife and daughter’s charges were also put on hold. According to Xiang Yue’s lawyer, there was no foundation for the charge in the first place. All assets’ revenues will be returned to the province.
Wei Wei might not go to jail, but he would face financial consequences. Wei Dong’s and other mansion employees’ cases are still pending in the courts, and none of the charges against them have been substantiated. Wei Dong is virtually the fallen man because he is the sole defendant facing jail time for weapons allegations. Calvin Barry, a slick showman who specializes in celebrity DUIs, is his defense attorney. His court manner is diametrically different from Robitaille’s—think loquacious salesperson vs. strategic operator—but he has an equally outstanding courtroom victory percentage. Wei Dong also claims that police mismanaged the evidence against him, claiming that some of his cash and jewelry went missing following a search of his residence. Needless to say, his legal team is keeping an eye on things.
Meanwhile, the property at 5 Decourcy Court was on the market for three months before selling for $8.2 million, nearly twice its 2015 purchase price. Wei gave up his part of the mansion, but his wife and the bank still had claims on it. After all of that work, the province was left with nothing but a few guns, a little sum of money, and the proceeds from the home sale.