Exasperated by deadlines, he loses his temper | Lawyer guilty of threatening Passport Canada employees

Exasperated by deadlines, he loses his temper | Lawyer guilty of threatening Passport Canada employees
Exasperated by deadlines, he loses his temper | Lawyer guilty of threatening Passport Canada employees

An experienced defense lawyer has been found criminally guilty of threatening a Passport Canada employee. In a worrying ultimatum, Franco Schiro told her that she would do better to contact the police and the army if her passport was not ready within the day.

Posted at 11:58 a.m.

A well-known criminalist at the Montreal courthouse, Franco Schiro found himself in the dock in recent months. Judge Annie Vanasse found him guilty this week of uttering threats to cause death or injury to Passport Canada employees. A charge filed by summary procedure, therefore of less seriousness.

“From the beginning, I have maintained my innocence and I will continue to do so knowing that I have not made threats towards anyone,” Franco Schiro commented by email.

June 2023, Franco Schiro wants to quickly obtain his passport to meet clients in Chicago. His file is complex. His passport had been suspended because he was not paying child support. However, he had obtained an order from the Superior Court to get his passport back for the duration of a business trip.

When he called Passport Canada on June 6, Franco Schiro was on edge. A few days earlier, he spent a day waiting at the Passport Canada offices without obtaining his passport, which caused him to miss his first flight. On the phone, a call center employee informed him that his passport was still not available.

Franco Schiro is “very agitated and angry”. He speaks loudly and very quickly. He begins to insult the officials. He then issues an ultimatum to the employee: his passport must be ready before 1 p.m.”, otherwise “he will go to the passport office in Montreal” and “they will hear[ont] talk about him.”

“He adds that they had better “contact the police and also the military”, because they will need physical and psychological assistance following what happens. According to the agent, the defendant states in discourteous terms what he wants to happen to them if they go to prison,” we can read in the judgment.

Franco Schiro continues his threats: he will “legally destroy” Passport Canada employees. According to the victim, he uses the expressions “bloody hell” or “bloody mess” at the end of sentences, for example: “It’s gonna be a bloddy hell [Ça va être un putain d’enfer] “.

A police officer, challenged by an employee, spots the man in the queue at the passport office and calls him out. Spontaneously, he introduces himself as a lawyer. He is immediately handcuffed.

At trial, Franco Schiro denied having uttered such words. According to him, he was neither angry nor impatient. A version which did not raise doubt in the mind of the judge.

“The purpose of a threat within the meaning of the Criminal Code is to make a person fear for their safety or that of others. This is exactly what the defendant is creating with his words during this appeal,” concluded the judge.

In an email sent to La Presse, Franco Schiro explains that the complainant “clearly admitted that no threat was made to her”. In addition, the complainant “was not paying attention to the conversation”, according to him. “Her approach to filing the complaint was with the aim of preventing a hypothetical situation that she was considering in her mind and/or in her head,” he continues.

Sentencing submissions will take place in the coming weeks. Me Catherine Bernard represents the public prosecutor.



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