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A suspect in the unsolved murders of an Ancaster lawyer and her husband was found dead Tuesday in a Toronto halfway house.

John Croitoru, known as Johnny K-9, died at the Keele Community Correctional Centre, a federal halfway house that takes only the most notorious and unwanted offenders.

Croitoru was charged by Hamilton Police in the cold-blooded 1998 murders of Lynn Gilbank (external - login to view), a criminal defence lawyer, and her husband Fred.

Tracy said her husband's long criminal history stemmed from "the lure of easy money."

The street name K-9 comes from Croitoru's wrestling career, the pinnacle of which was when he had a WWF match against Hulk Hogan. Lore has it Croitoru took the name from the words on a cop car during one of his arrests.

In September, Croitoru gained statutory release from a British Columbia prison after serving time on a 13-year sentence for conspiring to commit murder and conspiring to traffic in cocaine and marijuana. He was granted credit for time served and his sentence was reduced to less than four years.

Statutory release is a non-discretionary form of legislated release, subject to supervision. If Croitoru had lived to March 29, 2018, his sentence would have expired and he would have been a free man.

The Gilbanks' murders were huge news in Hamilton and beyond as it became known police suspected Lynn was targeted because of her profession, specifically her role in securing witness protection for a drug mule who became an informant against the notorious Gravelle crime family. The homicides sent a chill through Canada's legal community.

In 2005, Andre Gravelle was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Croitoru, known as an enforcer for the Gravelle family, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit murder.

The following year, the Crown withdrew the charges against both men, saying there was no likelihood of conviction.

Tracy said she and her husband discussed the Gilbanks case many times. She is adamant he was not involved in their murders.

Parole records show Croitoru had initially requested to be released to Hamilton. He even offered to wear an ankle monitoring device. But because of his criminal ties to the city he was president of the now defunct Satan's Choice biker chapter here and has a long criminal history of violence and drug-related offences he was refused.

The PBC went further, imposing a condition that Croitoru was "not permitted to be within the city limits of Hamilton."

"File information notes that you have worked as an enforcer and debt collector for an organized crime family," said the PBC. "And that you were the subject of a criminal investigation in a double homicide."

Croitoru also served time for bombing the Sudbury police station.

The parole board summed Croitoru up this way: "You appear comfortable using violence."


CLAIRMONT: Johnny K-9, suspect in Ancaster murder, found dead at Toronto halfway house (external - login to view)