The Manhunt
In the 1990s, three Canadian doctors were shot by a sniper’s rifle while they relaxed in their respective homes. The doctors–Garson Romalis, Hugh Short and Jack Fainman–didn’t work together but they all shared a common trait. They happened to be abortion providers.

The violence horrified Canadians and convinced authorities on Nov. 18, 1997, to establish a national task force to investigate the non-fatal shootings. Canadian officials named it the “Project Equality Task Force,” also known as the National Task Force on Doctor Shootings. The Task Force grew to include members from the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police Service, Ontario Provincial Police, Vancouver Police Department, Winnipeg Police Service, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and other organizations.

The National Task Force investigation picked up pace when, on Oct. 23, 1998, a single shot from a high-powered rifle killed Dr. Barnett Slepian in the kitchen of his Amherst, N.Y., home. It was the first time an American doctor had been targeted.

The FBI began its own investigation, and soon named notorious anti-abortion protester James Kopp as a material witness to the Slepian killing. Kopp had already fled the country, and an international manhunt ensued. Later, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) issued its own arrest warrant for Kopp, for the attempted murder of Dr. Hugh Short.

The Rewards
The FBI placed Kopp on its Most Wanted List, at the same high-profile press conference at which Osama bin Laden was added to the FBI’s notorious list. The FBI and U.S. Justice Department soon offered a combined reward of more than a half-million dollars for information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of Kopp.

Canadian officials followed suit, and, on March 19, 1999, the National Task Force offered its own reward of $547,000 (Canadian) for information leading to Kopp’s arrest and conviction. Besides the Canadian law-enforcement agencies, private groups including the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League contributed to the reward pool.

 “INFORMATION WANTED. $547,000 REWARD,” the reward poster states next to photos of James Charles Kopp. The National Task Force on Doctor Shootings and its member police and private organizations “have jointly offered this reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for these shootings,” the poster adds.

The Globe and Mail newspaper issued its own report on the reward offers. The paper wrote: “A Canadian police task force investigating the sniper shootings of abortion doctors has announced a $547,000 reward for help in cracking the case — a sum believed to be one of the largest cash rewards ever offered in Canada. Task force spokesman Inspector Keith McCaskill of the Winnipeg Police Service announced the huge reward yesterday, saying the incentive comes in addition to a $500,000 (U.S.) reward offered by U.S. police agencies,” the story said.

“The RCMP, Ontario Provincial Police, Vancouver Police Department, Winnipeg Police Service, Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police Service, the Canadian Abortion Rights League and other unnamed public institutions have made contributions to the reward pool,” the story adds.

My Undercover Life
In 1999, the FBI approached me and asked me to go undercover to infiltrate known associates of James Kopp. I knew one of them a bit from our days growing up in New York, but had no idea what he had become. As I soon learned, my former friend and his associates had become anti-abortion extremists. I put my career on hold for two years–and repeatedly risked my life–to penetrate their extremist cell.

I concealed my true feelings and attended radical anti-abortion conferences with Kopp’s associates, and was dragged along when the extremists defaced abortion clinics. I traveled in vehicles that had been rigged by the FBI to conceal listening devices. Despite the inherent danger, I willingly fed a constant stream of useful information to the FBI about the group’s activities and clandestine communications with Kopp, the international fugitive. I was a convincing actor, and I easily earned the trust of Kopp’s violent aides.

Finally, in March 2001, Kopp’s New York-based confederates gave me a trusted mission. They asked me to send Western Union cash payments to Kopp at his secret location in Dinan, France. Risking my life once again, and with Kopp’s associates waiting in the car outside, I furtively made a copy of the secret hideout address and slipped it in my boot. Later that night, I passed the crucial document to my FBI contact.

That key address and other information I provided helped crack the case. The FBI contacted their police counterparts in France, and Kopp quickly was arrested outside the post office in Dinan, France. The date was March 29, 2001.

Kopp’s Trials and Convictions
Kopp was extradited from France to the United States and, in a New York state court in 2003, was found guilty of the murder of Dr. Slepian and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Federal prosecutors then conducted their own trial. On Jan. 25, 2007, Kopp was convicted of violating the U.S. law protecting access to abortion clinics. On June 19, 2007, a federal judge sentenced Kopp to a life term in prison, on top of his previous state sentence.

Endless Delays
The FBI and U.S. Justice Department had pledged to pay more than a half million dollars to anyone whose information led to the arrest and conviction of James Kopp. The U.S. agencies made good on their promises. They paid me in full once the federal trial was complete.

The Canadian National Task Force on Doctor Shootings had offered its own $547,000 reward, also for information that would lead to Kopp’s arrest and conviction. I am the only person to have applied for the reward.

 In 2003, my FBI case agents and two senior officials at the FBI wrote two consecutive letters to the Canadian Task Force strongly supporting my request for the reward offer. One of the letters stated that my “contributions to this investigation cannot be overstated” and that information I provided “directly led to Kopp’s arrest and conviction.” It mentioned how helpful I had been in securing “Title 3” court-approved authorizations for the FBI, allowing the Bureau to wiretap calls and emails Kopp’s associates made to Kopp in Europe.

The FBI letter stated that the information I provided “was extremely singular in nature, compromised [my] safety and necessitated relocation.” The letter added that, “without Kopp’s timely capture, it is without a doubt” that he would have traveled back to Canada to continue his deadly shooting spree of doctors, and concluded with a strong request “for the disbursement of funds.”

Despite those strong letters, and the FBI’s continued support for my reward request, the Canadian police task force is refusing to pay.

Changing Story
At first, Canadian police officials were friendly and informed me that I would have to wait for Kopp to be convicted in state court in New York. That seemed to make sense and was consistent with the details printed on the Canadian reward poster. But once a New York state court convicted Kopp on murder charges, the same Canadian officials told me that I would have to wait for the outcome of the federal trial.

Just hang in there, they assured me. So I patiently waited.

Four years went by. Kopp was convicted once more, this time in federal court. But then the Canadian police moved the ball again. This time, Canadian officials informed me that I would have to wait for the federal case to be appealed.

And so another two years slipped by.

On April 6, 2009, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that all of the issues Kopp had raised on appeal were without merit. The federal appeals court upheld Kopp’s life sentence.

So were the Canadian police now ready to pay me? Not so fast.

Once all possible legal hurdles were out of the way, the Canadian police changed the terms of the reward offer again. In private exchanges, they recently informed the FBI that they won’t pay me because Kopp was never convicted in a Canadian court of law.

Let me be clear: Not once in my decade-long bureaucratic nightmare has the FBI or the Canadian police told me that Kopp had to be convicted in Canada to satisfy the terms of the reward. As you can see for yourself, the reward poster stated that the money would be paid upon conviction. It didn’t stipulate that the money would only be paid after a lengthy appeal process, or if the Canadian government happened to capture Kopp first. Or if the first trial happened to be in Canada. It only mentions arrest and conviction, terms that I met long ago.

The FBI and Canadian police officials repeatedly have told me that they believe that James Kopp shot those three doctors in Canada. In fact, the spokesman for the Canadian police task force issued a press released in May 2009 stating: “James Kopp remains an accused person and a person of interest in a number of other shootings involving abortion service providers in Canada and the United States,” including the shootings of Doctors Fainman, Short and Romalis.

The Canadian government refuses to extradite Kopp for those non-fatal shooting, since he is already serving a life sentence in the U.S. for murder. They made a tactical decision not to try Kopp in a Canadian court of law, and now I am paying the price.

What’s really going on here? My guess is that the Canadian law-enforcement officials simply do not want to pay. So much time has passed, and the public’s attention has naturally drifted. Why should the police organizations pay a decade-old reward, they reason, when no one is watching?  There’s no other logical explanation for their behavior, and their creation of a bogus, last-minute legal technicality to deny me the funds.

I helped the police find a dangerous killer, and end a terrible crime spree. It’s time to shine a light on the Task Force’s actions. The Canadian police groups should honor their commitment.

I can’t be the only one. If you’ve been deceived by the police in Canada or the U.S., tell me your story.

The police need tipsters to help solve crimes. But if the police offer rewards and never pay, tipsters like us will just walk away. Let’s put pressure on the police to act responsibly and do the right thing.