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He is a larger than life figure who regularly bought his women flowers, gave $500 to a community group in his childhood district and sent his subordinates Christmas cards while urging them to keep up morale.

But Quebec Hells Angels leader Maurice (Mom) Boucher is also a man charged with 15 first-degree-murder counts and other offences.

Yesterday, a jury found him guilty on both of the first two murder charges to go to trial, deciding it was beyond a reasonable doubt that he ordered the assassination of two correctional agents.

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"He has lots of heart. Lots of heart," said one of the three female friends who regularly showed up to support him at the trial.

The jury, however, agreed with the prosecution's contention that Mr. Boucher orchestrated a callous campaign to destabilize the judicial system, ordering his men to kill at random prison guards, police officers, prosecutors and judges.

Mr. Boucher, according to allegations the jury didn't hear, walked in to a furniture store and stared silently at one employee, a teenage girl who was to be a witness at his trial, frightening her into refusing to testify.

He is alleged to have been behind the torching of the home of a prison warden and to be the mastermind behind the murderous gang warfare that has raged in Quebec for the past eight years.

At another courtroom in Montreal, 17 alleged subordinates of Mr. Boucher are on trial for plotting to kill 134 rivals.

Mr. Boucher is a beefy 48-year-old, whose greying, short hair and wire-rim glasses would make him look like a gym teacher if it were not for his swagger and the cocky grin he flashes when he is seen wearing his gang's colours.

"For us, Mr. Boucher was considered like a god," former motorcycle-gang member Serge Boutin testified at the trial.

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"When I'd see other Hells Angels around him, they were full of admiration for him."

Mr. Boutin told the court that Mr. Boucher's bodyguards were under orders not to be too conspicuous.

Mr. Boucher loves mugging for the camera, whether goofing before television crews or making faces at police-surveillance teams.

He likes having his picture taken with celebrities who are unaware of his reputation.

There is a photo of him sidling up next to late Quebec premier Robert Bourassa.

There is another of him and his wife standing with Fidel Castro during a Cuban vacation.

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Mr. Boucher once summoned a crime tabloid photographer to his home to publicize the lavish wedding of one of his Hells Angels, an event where famous Quebec crooners Ginette Reno and Jean-Pierre Ferland performed.

The eldest of eight siblings, Mr. Boucher was born in Causapscal, a small town on the Gaspé Peninsula. He was 2 when the family moved to Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, one of Montreal's poorest areas.

Mr. Boucher didn't get along with his father, a short-tempered construction worker with a fondness for alcohol, according to a 1975 presentence report.

The report says Mr. Boucher dropped out of school in Grade 9 and used marijuana, hashish, LSD, cocaine, heroin and amphetamines and committed petty crimes to feed his habit.

His criminal record includes convictions for theft, sexual assault with a weapon, possession of a prohibited weapon, carrying a firearm and counselling violence.

The most substantial sentence he served until the murder case came early in his criminal career. He received a 40-month sentence after he and an accomplice in 1975 used a sawed-off rifle and a butcher's hatchet to rob a 71-year-old convenience store owner of $138.

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By the 1980s, he was a member of an east-end biker gang called the SS, alongside Salvatore Cazzetta, who would go on to found the Rock Machine, the gang Mr. Boucher's Hells Angels fought so ferociously.

Mr. Boucher joined the Hells Angels in 1987, at a time when its Quebec chapters were reeling from an internal purge that left five dead and resulted in the arrest and conviction of 23 bikers.

The gang bounced back within five years and Mr. Boucher rose to become a wealthy, powerful man and the most public figure in Quebec's underworld.

Mr. Boucher has two homes, each south of Montreal.

One is a spacious, fenced estate in Contrecoeur with horse stables and a pen for bison and wapiti.

According to trial testimony, underlings went there on weekends to do yard work.

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The other home is a smaller house, in Boucherville, equipped with a video-surveillance system.

Mr. Boucher had a membership at the ProGym, a fitness centre across the street from a police station.

He often had coffee at a mall next to the offices of Montreal's police detectives.

That's no coincidence.

Mr. Boucher seems to enjoy being seen near police offices, whether for protection or as a taunt.

When not lunching with his men at a strip club near his office, Mr. Boucher sometimes ate -- and left enormous tips -- at a fancy Old Montreal restaurant often patronized by judges from the nearby courthouse.

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Mr. Boucher's wife, Diane, accompanied him to gang functions, but during his monthlong trial it was another woman, Louise Mongeau, who was present to show support.

Mr. Boucher's lawyer described Ms. Mongeau as a member of his client's "entourage." Wiretaps show that she is on intimate terms with Mr. Boucher, the rare person who calls him by terms of endearment such as mon chéri (my darling), minou (kitty) and mon p'tit chaton (my li'l kitten).

Mr. Boucher's image of invincibility grew to near mythic status in 1998, after a jury acquitted him in his first trial for the murder of the prison guards.

Mr. Boucher and his followers made a triumphant exit from the courthouse, shoving reporters and guards out of their way.

Later that night, he appeared at a boxing gala, where he was greeted by a cheer, cementing his fame as an untouchable criminal.

In October of 2000, however, the Quebec Court of Appeals ordered another trial.

Mr. Boucher was arrested and locked in an empty wing at the Tanguay Prison for Women, where he has been detained until today.

He now faces the prospect of spending at least the next quarter of a century behind bars. Guilty of three charges; a trial is pending Maurice (Mom) Boucher, 48, was convicted yesterday of: -* First-degree murder on June 26, 1997, of prison guard Diane Lavigne. -* First-degree murder on Sept. 8, 1997, of prison guard Pierre Rondeau. -* Attempted murder on Sept. 8, 1997, of prison guard Robert Corriveau. A trial is pending on charges that include: -* A trial is pending on charges that include: -* Attempted murders of Rock Machine members on Aug. 23, 1996, when a van loaded with 181 kilograms of explosives was drive next to their clubhouse. -* Attempted murders of Rock Machine members on Oct. 30, 1997, when 130 dynamite sticks were placed in a conference room. -* Conspiracy to murder several rivals who refused to buy illegal narcotics from the Hells Angels Nomads chapter from Jan. 15, 1997, to March 27, 2001. -* 13 first-degree-murder charges in killings from Dec. 20, 1996, to June 6, 2000, of Pierre Beauchamp, Marc Belhumeur, Yvon Roy, Johnny Plescio, Jean Rose, Pierre Bastien, Stéphane Morgan, Daniel Boulet, Richard Parent, Serge Hervieux, Tony Plescio, Patrick Turcotte and François Gagnon. -* Attempted murder on Feb. 13, 2001, of Alain Brunette.

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