Franklin Dimitrios Shoofey (1941 – 15 October 1985) was a prominent criminal lawyer in Canada who was active in the Quebec Liberal Party. In a still-unsolved murder, he was shot to death while working late at his Montreal law office.
Early history and professional background
Shoofey was born in Montreal and grew up in a downtown working-class neighborhood. At age seventeen his father died and he had to work to support his mother and put himself through school. He studied law at McGill University, and eventually became a partner in the law firm of Shoofey, Morneau, Blais, Rolland, Pariseau and Poupart.
Shoofey’s clients included gangster Richard Blass, who was killed in a police raid in 1975, and four men apprehended for the 1978 murder of Montreal "Godfather" Paolo Violi. Shoofey later wrote a book about Blass, and told The Gazette newspaper (Montreal) that many of his clients: "were a special group of people living by their own rules … in their own closed society".
Police often used Shoofey to help negotiate in hostage situations. In the last such occurrence, Shoofey was called in to assure an escaped prisoner that police would not abuse him if he surrendered. After a prolonged stand-off, the gunman released his hostage and gave himself up to police.
Shoofey represented the boxing Hilton family, spending part of his last evening alive at a Montreal Athletic Commission hearing trying to prevent American boxing promoter Don King from co-promoting a Matthew Hilton bout. The Hiltons were shaken by Shoofey’s death, and considered him like family.
Henry Morgentaler and Reggie Chartrand
In the two months before his death Shoofey began an action against famous abortion provider Dr. Henry Morgentaler. The action was sought by client Reggie Chartrand, an ex-boxer, staunch Quebec separatist, and an activist opposed to abortion. Chartrand wanted abortion charges laid based on evidence contained in two National Film Board productions, which allegedly showed Morgentaler performing an abortion. Chartrand continued the effort after Shoofey’s death, but failed when justice of the peace Michel Breton decided against laying charges.
Brother André’s heart
In 1974 Shoofey played a role in recovering the preserved heart of Brother André Bessette (now Saint André Bessette), which had been stolen from St. Joseph’s Oratory. The religious relic was missing for more than a year when Shoofey received an anonymous telephone call telling him its location. Shoofey and police went to the basement of an apartment building where they found a reliquary containing the heart in a locker, the seal on the reliquary still unbroken. At the time, Brother André was being considered for sainthood by the Catholic Church, his canonization eventually occurring on October 17, 2010.
Advocate for the poor
Shoofey often aided the poor, sponsoring Christmas benefits, raising money for families of crime victims, and opening a community centre that provided job information and legal aid. He also took the case of a paraplegic pencil peddler who was jailed for begging. Shoofey secured his release, making comments critical of a society that forced him to beg.
Liberal Party connections
Shoofey tried three times to obtain the nomination for the Quebec Liberal Party in the working-class Saint-Jacques riding. However, party officials pushed him aside, fearing that some of his past associations would be a political liability.
Late on October 15, 1985, an unknown assailant murdered Shoofey in the hallway outside his fifth-floor law office, shooting him multiple times. Shortly afterwards The Gazette received a telephone call from a man claiming to be with the "Red Army Liberation Front", saying: "I and my colleagues have just assassinated Frank Shoofey. Good riddance." However, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service had not heard of a group by this name, and a spokesman suggested that the call may have been an attempt to throw off the investigation. Crime writers Peter Edwards and Michel Auger later wrote: "it was likely that mobsters, not some unknown political group, were the killers of Shoofey". This is further supported by a 2009 book, The Contract, by Claude Grant, a legal colleague who articled under Shoofey. Grant said that there was word in underworld circles of a contract on Shoofey’s life about a year before the actual murder, that Shoofey was warned of the matter, but dismissed it as hearsay. Grant himself went into hiding for a period of time after Shoofey’s death, fearing his own life to be in danger.
- Peter Edwards and Michel Auger, The encyclopedia of Canadian organized crime, McClelland & Stewart Ltd. 2004, pp. 220-2, ISBN 0-7710-3044-4.
- The Gazette, 16 Oct 1985, "Frank Shoofey shot dead outside law office", Montreal, p. A-1.
- The Gazette, 17 Oct 1985, Peggy Curran, "Frank Shoofey’s killer left few solid clues: police", Montreal, p. A-1; article continues on second page: "Shoofey had many enemies and killer left few clues: police", p. A-2.
- Frank Shoofey, Nom: Blass, prénom: Richard, alias: "le chat", profession: criminal (English translation: Name: Blass, first name: Richard, aka "the cat", occupation: criminal), Québécor, 1983, ISBN 2-89089-204-2.
- The Gazette, 17 Oct 1985, Susan Semenak, "Lawyer’s slaying baffles colleagues", Montreal, p. A-4.
- The Citizen, 16 Sep 1985, "Montreal hostage-taking ends quietly", Ottawa, p. A3.
- The Gazette, 17 Oct 1985, Tim Burke, "Hilton family left reeling by shooting of old friend Shoofey", Montreal, p. F-4.
- The Gazette, 13 Aug 1985, Rod Macdonell, "Quebec won’t help ex-boxer in prosecuting Morgentaler", Montreal, p. A-5.
- The Gazette, 5 Sep 1985, "Morgentaler case put off to Sept. 26", Montreal, p. A-3.
- The Gazette, 13 Mar 1986, Rod MacDonell, "Ex-boxer thwarted in bid to charge Morgentaler", Montreal, p. A-5.
- Michael Enright and Frank Shoofey, Police Recover Brother Andre's Stolen Heart", Radio Interview: 26 Dec 1974, The CBC Digital Archives, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
- Claude Grant, The Contract, New Rainbow Publisher Ltd. 2009, pp. 89,92,105,106 and 115.