RSS Feed

1998 – Today the News of the World can piece together the astonishing events of Tuesday, December 8 and reveal exactly how Salmi tried to con a nation.

The Province (Vancouver)
February 6, 1998
Page A24
Pot smokers paying Hells Angels’ bills
Mark Tonner

A message to all the nice guy pacifist pot smokers out there: You and your herbal buddies are financing a pack of heartless criminals in yet another sad ‘60s parallel.

I recently joined Vancouver police Strike Force and local emergency response team crews as they forced entry to a series of 10 marijuana grow houses. These are seemingly normal homes, in neighbourhoods like yours and mine, with entire floors given over to drug operations.

The setups in these homes are amazingly sophisticated. Thousands of dollars worth of specialty lights run on timers to maximize growth and potency; heavy transformers are wired in series to provide the juice. Electrical meters are bypassed, to steal current without alerting BC Hydro. Pungent plant odors are vented up chimney shafts (often chemically de-scented) to elude neighbourly nostrils.

The new farmers are mostly Hells Angels and their civilian servants, from what we’re seeing. Signs of biker worship (outlaw flags, stickers, Nazi regalia) abounded in these grow houses – even a Harley Davidson was found in one bud-filled basement. Doubtless the bike will be missed; it was taken away under proceeds-of-crime legislation.

There are other troubling themes. Pornography turned up in almost every operation, and not the medium-core variety seen in convenience stores.

Signs of Satanism were found in more than half the homes. Posters proclaims, “I vote for Satan,” and “Vote for Satan or the virgin gets it” to give printable examples. One advertised an orgy held in “Aborts-ford” to celebrate Satan being elected to public office!

What that might be about is hard to know. The Dark One hasn’t been listed on any recent ballot forms, but who can say for sure? He may have been voted in under another name.

Signs of cocaine use were much in evidence, as was a fascination with fighting dogs. In one house an alphabetical list of known serial murderers was found.

Alas, none of this points to the enlightened state marc Emery (owner of the Cannabis Café) claims for today’s brotherhood of dope smokers. It points to cold-hearted opportunism, and indifference to anything but profit.

Those who smoke the odd joint should bear in mind whom their contributions are supporting. Those opposed should keep an eye out for sealed-off windows, the sound of fans roaring late at night, and odors resembling roadkill skunk.

Occupants of these grow homes are left with a greeting, in the form of a sign posted on their lawn, saying who dropped by and why their grow equipment is missing. We’ve had a great stack of signs printed up – give CrimeStoppers a call at 666-TIPS if you think your neighbours are running an indoor plantation of their own.

The Province (Vancouver)
February 13, 1998
Page A22
Are we polarized on pot?: 
Grow-houses column sparked huffing ‘n’ puffing
Mark Tonner

Rarely is reader mail as fiery as what’s come in since last week’s article on marijuana grow houses.

I’d shared my experience tagging along with emergency-response- team and strike-force members as they played knock-knock at a series of local homes used as covert pot plantations.

The recurring theme was that police present the real problem, by insisting pot prohibition works, in the face of an expensive and time-consuming failure. Take the evil weed out of the Criminal Code, it was said, and you’ll end profiteering by criminal groups, as well as free the police for other matters.

It turns out the devilish posters I’d spoken of, hanging in several grow houses (one advertised an orgy, to celebrate Satan being elected to public office) may have been leftovers from a political prank. Apparently, a man ran in 1997′s federal election under the name “Sa Tan” to tease a largely Christian Fraser Valley electorate, and actually polled 96 votes. The same man was said to have run as Ronald McDonald, complete with clown suit, in the most recent Vancouver civic election.

I was accused of fomenting “Reefer Madness”-style hysteria, and was labelled a narrow-minded bigot. Midway through the e-mailbag, an invitation to get off my “high” horse and have a puff prompted a new thought.

How split is public opinion on the marijuana issue? If an accurate poll were taken, showing a majority in favor of outright legalization, would it be right to change the law?

Though marijuana does sack respiratory systems and brings depression, paranoia and withered motivation, it doesn’t turn smokers into instant threats the way heroin and cocaine do. Wheezing and underachievement could be portrayed as individual choices. And in a sense, decriminalization has already been achieved — charges for simple possession of pot are currently unheard of.

Yet Canadian society is unready to turn its back on full-scale manufacture and distribution. The CrimeStoppers line has been ringing non-stop since last week’s article, and the enforcement role falls to us.

The “waste-of-police-resources” argument bites both ways: Ignoring less-serious offences until the most dire ones are eliminated would tie us permanently to whatever was given top priority. Even that most dire offence wouldn’t be eliminated, and nothing else would get done — no quieting of noisy parties, no searches for missing persons, no anti-purse-snatching projects or crime-prevention outreaches, to give examples from an endless list.

Dare I say, no photo radar? All kidding aside, police owe society a reasonable attempt at targeting all criminal activity. Until we’re called off, we’ll keep pounding away at this one.

Even so, it must be said the marijuana issue makes “referendum” a prettier word than it has been.

The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
July 18, 1998
Page D.4
Boring, eh? You must be Canadian
Madelaine Drohan

LONDON — If you want to produce an instant yawn at a party in England, announce that you’re a Canadian.

I don’t know why or when it happened, but the word “Canadian” is synonymous with “boring” in some circles in England. I say England rather than Britain because Canadians generally receive a more sympathetic reception in Scotland, Wales and even Northern Ireland, where the involvement of retired Canadian General John de Chastelain in the recent peace talks has made us a fitting topic of conversation.

In England, however, we are the butt of jokes, such as one published recently in a Tanqueray gin guide to etiquette that was pointed out to me by a fellow Canadian, Brian Godzilla Salmi. More about him later.

Tanqueray thought it would be a hoot to include this line in its guide under the subject of bores. “Bores come in two categories: those without conversation and Canadians.”

I was offended but not surprised. After all, I had heard many versions of it in the seven years that I have been posted in London. But in all that time I have never heard a satisfactory explanation as to why the English find us boring.

We are, after all, a country that has tamed the wilderness. We live in one of the world’s most inhospitable climates, and yet have prospered to the extent that we belong to the rich man’s club of nations, the Group of Seven. We have an economy and a society that are the envy of the world, if the annual United Nations surveys are correct.

Many of us are descendants of rugged adventurers who left the civilized Old World for the great unknown. But even those who have arrived more recently from all parts of the world can say they left the familiar for the unknown and, in doing so, showed a daring not exhibited by those left behind.

This doesn’t cut much ice with the English, who, once they establish a belief, cling to it for centuries. It’s called tradition.

Like any good Canadian, I blame the Americans. It’s not that they’ve been spreading nasty tales about us in England. Far from it. When Canadians and Americans meet in London, we quickly realize we have more in common with each other than with the English, who are, after all, descendants of the people many of our ancestors left behind for a better life across the Atlantic.

No, the problem is that Canadians are seen as pale imitations of Americans. We never even had the guts to go to war with the English to establish our own country (I speak here of English-speaking Canadians; as French-speaking Canadians did, indeed, wage war). The Americans had a glorious revolution. The Canadians just slowly slipped from England’s grasp without the English taking much notice. We even kept the Queen as camouflage.

And then there is American culture. America, as the English call the United States, is the place of Hollywood, the Big Mac, Coke and Levi’s jeans. It’s a place of romance. English kids grow up dreaming of going to New York or Los Angeles. No one has confided to me that they had always dreamed of going to Toronto.

Oh, they like visiting the relatives. And they rave about how clean and neat our cities are compared to London. But the only time they take notice of Canada is when a grizzly bear goes berserk or an English climber gets lost on a mountain.

Beside the big, brash American culture, Canada looks anemic.

English commentators love to talk about the “special relationship” that supposedly exists between the British Prime Minister and the U.S. President. To hear them talk, Bill Clinton is on the phone every other day seeking Tony Blair’s advice. Sadly, they feel no such need to play up relations with the Canadian Prime Minister.

When Jean Chretien was in London on an official visit in May, the British government couldn’t even rustle up someone to brief Canadian journalists on what he and Mr. Blair might talk about.

Mr. Blair’s office tried to palm off Canadian requests on the Foreign Office, and the Foreign Office referred them back to No. 10. Only when pressed did the head of the Foreign Office’s press department come up with the name of someone who supposedly handled Canadian affairs. It turned out that person had given up the job some time ago. You get the picture: Canada is not exactly high on their priority list.

Enter Mr. Salmi, the man who spotted the Tanqueray slight. He decided to rectify this wrong. Calling himself Generalissimo Brian Godzilla Salmi, he declared war on Britain and demanded an audience with the Queen.

When we last spoke, he was also planning something akin to the Boston Tea Party, except instead of throwing tea into BostonHarbour he was going to throw Tanqueray gin off WestminsterBridge.

I have no idea whether he followed through on either of his plans. Even if he threw a truckload of Tanqueray off the bridge, the English media probably would ignore him. After all, he’s just another boring Canadian.

News of the World (London)
Sunday, December 20, 1998
Pages 16 – 17
Man ‘raped’ by Viagra girls is a sick hoaxer
He staged 3-in-a-bed sex con after getting pal to tie him up
David Jeffs and Ray Levine

The screaming man who said he was chained to a hotel bed, force-fed Viagra and ‘raped’ by two sex-mad blondes can today be exposed by the News of the World.

All Britain knew him just as a “handsome young businessman,” after reports of his ordeal hit the headlines.

But the TRURTH is he’s a scruffy furniture mover called Brian Salmi. And the Viagra attack that became the talk of every office Christmas party was an elaborate HOAX to cash in on interviews about his ‘fate’.

The 34 year old conman believed he could earn a small fortune by spilling every detail of the attack that, “destroyed my life.” And he didn’t care if hours of police time were wasted in the process.

VICTIM

Salmi even bragged to a friend: “I faked the whole scene in the hotel room. I couldn’t find anyone to play the part of the victim so did it myself. I didn’t even need to have the girls – just someone to chain me to the bed.”

The cocky cheat added: “Before the police cut me free I’d even mailed out a press release saying the incident had taken place. I knew the story had a chance of going big.”

Today the News of the World can piece together the astonishing events of Tuesday, December 8 and reveal exactly how Salmi tried to con a nation.

The scam began in the evening. Salmi and a pal spent the night drinking in southwest London before booking a shabby room under a false name at the budget New Aquarius Hotel close to London’s Earl’s Court. They paid in untraceable cash.

The pair chose the place specifically because it didn’t have closed-circuit TV cameras covering the doorway. That way, Salmi knew police wouldn’t be able to get pictures of the supposed blondes bringing him back to the hotel.

Once inside the room, Salmi’s accomplice chained his arms and legs to a single bed using four sets of chains and six padlocks.

He then ‘gagged’ Salmi’s mouth with sticky tape to add more drama to the scene that would later confront stunned police officers.

After planting two Viagra pills, an empty bottle of vodka and a sex aid next to the bed, Salmi’s friend slipped out unnoticed in the dead of the night.

As he left the room he stuck a sticker on the door bearing the words: “Viagra Rape Squad Strikes Again.”

BLONDES

The following morning at 11 a.m. a chambermaid heard “terrified” Salmi’s muffled yelps for help as he tried to wriggle free from his chains – apparently in a state of panic.

The hotel manager called the police after Salmi said he had been raped by a pair of blondes who had picked him up in a nightclub and chained him to the bed.

Five officers rushed to the scene and found Salmi naked except for e white T-shirt. He was begging to be cut free and made a very convincing victim.

After spouting his accusations of false imprisonment and rape, he gave police a fictitious name – Gary Urda.

But he refused to reveal his address, saying his pregnant girlfriend “would kill him” if the story ever got out.

At this point police had no idea that “getting a story out” was exactly what Salmi wanted.

He insisted that nothing had been stolen so quickly gathered up his clothes and left the hotel.

The following day reporters covered the story.

But because Salmi had given false details no one could track him down and no name appeared in the reports.

Salmi thought he had got away with it.  Now, he believed, was his chance to reveal his identity to the newspaper of his choice and charge a fortune for his exclusive report.

“I just hope the war doesn’t continue or the Queen Mum dies,” he told his pal, “or else I’ll be bumped out of the newspaper. I want it on the front page.”

But following a tip-off News of the World investigators tracked Salmi to a pokey flat in Hampstead, North London.

Salmi still thought a big payday was just around the corner and put on an elaborate performance.

Pretending to weap as he talked, ginger-haired Salmi held his head in his hands and said: “The whole thing has turned me to booze and fags and I can’t sleep. My girlfriend’s two months pregnant and she’s kicked me out. The bitches who kidnapped me stole my wallet and took Polaroids of me chained to the bed and sent them to the address they found on my driver’s license. They detailed the whole story and how I was a willing participant.

“I’d been out drinking and I admit when these two blondes in their early twenties began chatting me up I felt flattered. They were both dressed in slinky black numbers. I, I remember, was wearing a Wonderbra while the other had on a pair of knee-high black boots.”

But by now Salmi was well into his stride. “They asked me back to their hotel,” he lied, glibly. The last thing I remember was drinking vodka and passing out. When I came around I realized the pair were making love to me but I couldn’t move because of the chains. I thought because of the amount I drank that I wouldn’t be capable of anything, let alone sex.”

GLOSSED

“That’s when I realized they had given me a Viagra pill to make sure I performed. They called themselves Denise and Ulrika, after the blonde TV presenters. After using me as their sex thing for nearly three hours I passed out and woke up the following morning at 11. They’d gone and so had my wallet.”

He conveniently glossed over the fact that he told police that nothing was missing.

Salmi continued: “A few days later my pregnant girlfriend received the Polaroids in the post – and some printed sheets from an organization calling itself the Viagra Rape Squad. She went berserk and kicked me out.

“I want to tell my story to try and put things right. I’ll start a trust fund for my baby with the money I get for this. It might also help me win my woman back.”

But Salmi NEVER met the blondes. According to the hotel manager NO women fitting Salmi’s description were booked into the New Aquarius that night. And he DOESN’T have a pregnant girlfriend.

Canadian Salmi lives on his own. There is NO baby to benefit from a trust fund.

Back in Canada, trickster Salmi – also known by his nickname Godzilla – is notorius for a string of bizarre stunts.

In 1996 he ran for mayor of Vancouver under the name Ronald F. McDonald. His election promise to “hook all politicians to lie detectors and have baseball gloves surgically implanted on their hands so they can’t raid the till and stuff their pockets anymore.”

Four years ago he wrote a column for a local newspaper urging fans of his local ice hockey team, the Vancouver Canucks, to “booze up and riot” if they won a cup final game.

The fans cause over $1 million in damages and 150 people faced riot related charges. The following day he spouted: “It was hardly a riot. Sur you could smell the teargas but I’ve seen more glass broke at a Greek wedding. Frankly, I don’t think anything I’ve done is insane.”

Joking to his pal this week it was clear cocky Salmi thought he had got away with his ‘rape’ plan. “There are no worries,” he smirked. “When the News of the world man started pumping me about my girlfriend I just pulled out the Polaroid pics. And they’ve also got the cops, which is a good thing,” he added – referring to confirmation he expected police to give. “I just hope it’s the front page.”

Arrogant Salmi also boasted to his pal that he was particularly proud of the lie that his pregnant girlfriend had thrown him out. “I said she started throwing things and screaming,” he said. “They went for that. I get the feeling everything is growing real big. I’ve gone to elaborate efforts to feed this story properly. I just hope the whole thing doesn’t blow up around me.

“But there were some things I just couldn’t overcome. I had to give them my real name for the cheque. I’m banking on the hope they won’t check my past or everything could be busted.” We always check. The smile was wiped off Salmi’s face yesterday when we told him we had rumbled his hoax.

“Yes, it was a scam,” he admitted. Then, attempting bravado, “I can’t be done for wasting police time because I didn’t call the police – the hotel did. I deny ever asking for money or trying to obtain it by deception. If you had offered me some I would have donated it to some kind of support group for abused women. I wouldn’t have taken a penny myself, I promise you.

When we spoke to Kennsington Police, who originally investigated the incident, a spokesperson said, “This matter will be passed on to the investigating officer now we know the true facts.”

Share this:

%d bloggers like this: