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Police officers and paramedics arrive at the scene at the Châteauneuf Hotel in Laval, Que., Wednesday, January 18, 2012 where former Montreal police Sgt. Ian Davidson, who allegedly tried to sell a list of police informants to the Mafia, was found dead.

Graham Hughes/Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

A retired Montreal police officer is believed to have committed suicide after he was identified as being under investigation for trying to sell the names of secret informants to the mob.

Police in Laval, north of Montreal, confirmed they were called at 9 a.m. Wednesday to the L'hôtel Châteauneuf Laval, by the side of Highway 15.

A dead man was found in a room by an employee, said Constable Nathalie Lorrain, adding that she was not authorized to give more details.

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News of the investigation broke Monday that a 33-year-veteran retired officer was under investigation by the Montreal police, the Sûreté du Québec and the RCMP. Montreal's police chief Marc Parent said the man was among a limited number of people who had access to a confidential list of informant names.

But it was Wednesday morning that the newspaper La Presse identified the suspect as former detective-sergeant Ian Davidson, a retired intelligence analyst.

He had been arrested last October at Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau international airport as he was about to board a flight to Costa Rica, the newspaper said, adding that he was released but his passport confiscated.

Mr. Davidson lived in a two-storey detached house in the Ste-Rose district of Laval.

It was not known if he faced financial problems but provincial land records show that last August he remortgaged for $214,000 the house he co-owned with a 41-year-old woman with whom he also co-owned a 2010 Jeep Patriot.

A neighbour said police officers raided the house during the summer, hauling out several boxes.

"They nearly emptied the house," said the neighbour, who described Mr. Davidson as being "very, very discreet."

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Mr. Davidson retired a year ago and the allegations against him surfaced four months later in a wiretapped conversation.

"It's really an exceptional case. We're talking about a straightforward person who seemed to have a very spotless career who, for diverse reasons, at the end of his career, decides to take this action," Mr. Parent said.

"When something like this happens, it doesn't just tarnish the Montreal police, it tarnishes all police forces," Mr. Parent added.

Defence lawyer Claude Olivier, who has represented several organized-crime clients, confirmed in an e-mail that he was contacted by someone who offered to sell a list of confidential police sources to one of his clients. Mr. Olivier received an envelope with four photocopies inside but chose instead to contact police.

According to La Presse, citing unnamed police sources, investigators at one point resorted to what they called a "C-24," a reference to Bill C-24, an amendment to the Criminal Code that gives limited justification to law-enforcement officers to commit an offence during an investigation.

In this case, the paper reported, investigators broke a window of the couple's Jeep Patriot to seize a portable computer without a warrant.

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