Monday, April 28, 2008
RCMP told to drop charges
CBC Newsworld on Sunday evening, April 27, 2003 reported on this disturbing case which goes to the heart of basic issues of law in a civil society. CBC interviewed and/or recorded many of the characters mentioned in this news story. The Ontario case hinges almost entirely upon the issue of disclosure and the resulting legal tussle as RCMP tries to obtain full disclosure from the Ontario Attorney General. If read with disclosure in mind, the Toronto case-history creates some insight into other cases, such as Case #23299 (Basi-Virk / BCRail) now stalled in BC Supreme Court on the problem of disclosure. - BC Mary.
RCMP told to drop corruption charges against T.O. officers
The senior RCMP officer who led a probe into a now disbanded Toronto police drug squad wanted 12 officers charged with corruption related offences, but was told by provincial prosecutors that this number was unmanageable.
As a result, six officers were charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice, perjury, extortion, theft and assault-related charges in January, 2004.
Detective Sgt. John Schertzer and other members of his former unit were accused of assaulting and stealing from drug suspects, as well as routinely falsifying information related to confidential informants in drug investigations.
All of the charges against the six officers were stayed in February of this year by Superior Court Justice Ian Nordheimer because their Charter rights were violated as a result of unreasonable delay in bringing the case to trial (the Crown is appealing this ruling).
The Ontario Ministry of the Attorney-General's explanation for charging only six officers has been disclosed for the first time, in a confidential report sent by RCMP Assistant Commissioner John Neily in 2004 to the chief of police in Toronto. The report was obtained by CBC radio news and made public Friday.
"The practice of prosecuting conspiracy cases can be limited by the logistics of too many subjects on an indictment," Asst. Comm. John Neily said that he was told. "The rule of thumb among experienced attorneys appears to be to not prosecute any more than seven on one indictment for conspiracy," he wrote.
Four more drug squad officers were named as "unindicted co-conspirators" and would have been required to testify as prosecution witnesses, but they were not facing criminal charges.
A series of affidavits by Asst. Comm. Neily that were unsealed by the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2004 alleged there was "evidence of criminal activity" by 17 officers. In a letter to the Crown in 2003 that was made public in Judge Nordheimer's ruling, the allegations were described as "the largest police corruption scandal known in Canadian history," by Asst. Comm. Neily.
The confidential report he authored in 2004 alleged that Mr. Schertzer (who retired last year) led a "specific group of officers serving under his supervision on a crime spree in the drug culture of Toronto," between 1995 and 1999.
The allegations of corruption against the Schertzer team and other Toronto police drug squads led to federal drug prosecutors dismissing or staying charges in at least 200 cases between 1996 and 2002.
A former drug squad member in northwest Toronto who admitted to using cocaine while on duty is the only officer to be convicted of a criminal offence as a result of the findings of the more than two-year-long task force investigation, which began in 2001.
The then-Toronto police Chief Julian Fantino appointed Asst. Comm. Neily to lead the internal investigation, which was made up of more than two-dozen detectives.
The appointment was made soon after an internal Toronto police "business case" report in June 2001 recommended setting up a task force to avoid a public inquiry into alleged corruption. "That the investigation has an external component, that will provide greater credibility to the results," wrote Inspector Tony Corrie. "The faster the review is done the less chance there is of committing more damage. Taking these steps may avoid a public inquiry," he wrote.
National Post lists additional reports on this story; but I can find no mention of it in any of the CanWest daily newspapers in B.C. - BC Mary.
I heard about this case on the CBC this morning as well and couldn't help but see the parallels to our very own BC Rail Case, among others.
A big part of the privatization scam is besides greed satisfaction for the "right" people, the transformation of what should be information belonging to the public
into "proprietary knowledge" protected from the prying eyes of those that pay the bills and tolerate the degraded services.
"National Post lists additional reports on this story; but there's no mention of it in any of the CanWest daily newspapers in B.C."
This is so NOT SURPRISING, in order to determine what is important or relevant to the people of BC, it may be best to seek out those stories which are IGNORED by the BC Canned Waste purveyors.
I was looking for further information over the weekend on Kevin Krueger's announcement of the embedding of the moratorium on uranium development in BC after hearing about it on CBC Radio and the industry response. Surprise, surprise, there was no coverage of any seriousness until I happened onto the Red Deer Advocate and the Globe and Mail. As far as the Times-Colonist, Sun or Province was concerned, it may as well have happened in a galaxy far away and long ago! It reminded me of the story of the man that got hit by a train, somewhere, sometime and may or may not have lived.
CanWest in print is a waste of dead trees and what should be called a criminal conspiracy to mislead the public. Goebbels had nothing on CanWest! Other than blogs, it seems like the more the technology improves, making communications faster and more accessible, the more we are ill-served. Unless of course, you happen to consider sensational shiny objects like murders and the private lives of celebrities important and relevant to your life.
The AG used to live out here in Tsawwassen and I am told that at parties he used to have a lot to say about matters he shouldn't be discussing in public (COMMENT REMOVED BY MODERATOR). I asked (NAME REMOVED) about this and he said the AG was very popular with the media when he was a judge because of his "off the record" comments. He has moved to Vancouver, divorced, and (FURTHER COMMENTS REMOVED).
You decide, please.
How much should be said about an elected official who holds a significant position of power in matters of public interest?
Isn't an Attorney General an elected politician about whom the electorate is entitled to know the facts?
I'd appreciate knowing your opinion, as this particular comment gave me a challenge. At first, I thought the entire comment should be rejected.
But then, as you see, I chose to remove the debatable comments (fascinating as they may be) and let this commentor's bare-bones opinion stand simply as fair comment.
What would you have done?
- BC Mary.
Hi, Anonymous 9:02,
Heck no, you didn't offend. My difficulty with that comment was entirely with the ethical issues of what to publish, what NOT to publish. There are laws against saying certain things in public print, right?
Did you read about the group of people in Powell River who were threatened with lawsuits by their own City council for expressing their disapproval of council decisions??
That's an extreme reaction to fair comment, I know. And I'm not suggesting that people should run scared, either.
But it's a reminder to be careful at all times, to avoid publicizing facts or opinions which could cause hurt, injury or embarrassment.
It's a matter of basic fairness in a civil society where even somebody accused of a crime is presumed innocent until proven otherwise in a court of law.
So don't think I was annoyed about your comment. Rather, I was being mindful of the risk. That point didn't come across as clearly as it should have.
Thanks for writing.
There definitely seems to be a move afoot to shut folks up. Have a nice weekend and keep up the good work.