Pubdate: Wed, 15 Feb 2006
Source: Packet & Times (CN ON)
Copyright: 2006, Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: Teviah Moro


Crack Addiction Led To Downward Spiral That Finished At Local Motel

A former Toronto police officer, whose multiple convictions and shady 
dealings with a criminal underworld stirred a maelstrom of 
controversy four years ago, has turned up dead in an Atherley motel room.

Orillia OPP confirmed yesterday the man who died at the Lakeside Inn 
on Creighton Street a week and a half ago was Richard Staley a 
27-year veteran convicted in 2002 of 13 charges, including breach of 
trust, obstruction of justice and firearms offences.

Staley never shook his crack-cocaine addiction, says the man who 
calls himself his common-law partner, who shared the last moments of 
the ex-cop's life in the two-bedroom unit near the shores of Lake Simcoe.

Klaas Danser, 71, believes police will find evidence of Staley's drug 
use: "They will find crack in his blood, I'm sure."

Staley did a line of cocaine the afternoon before his death, Danser said.

He and Staley, 54, once a member of Toronto 51 Division's major crime 
unit, left Toronto, sick of the drug scene, in search of a 
"nature-loving paradise."

"We have been travelling all over Canada," said Danser, who's still 
living at the motel.

Police continue to investigate the case and no cause of death has 
been determined, Det. Const. Tim Ticknor of the Orillia OPP said yesterday.

Investigators are waiting for a toxicology report and samples from 
the Centre of Forensic Sciences in Toronto, Ticknor said, noting 
without the results, investigators can't determine if drugs were a 
factor in Staley's death.

At least some of Staley's 13 charges spanning the years 1992 to 2000 
stemmed from his use of a confidential computer to dig up information 
for drug dealers who supplied him with crack cocaine.

Moreover, Staley had "lost" three police-issued handguns since 1996 
and didn't report them missing, and tried to stop a police 
investigation of a theft by one of his drug contacts, a Superior 
Court of Justice in Toronto heard during his April 2002 sentencing hearing.

A court report on the hearing stated Staley "has apparently had a 
serious drug addiction problem with crack cocaine for a decade or 
more," and noted the charges "are clearly correlated to this central issue."

Danser said he and Staley checked into the Lakeside Inn in September 
and had planned to stay until spring at $800 a month.

That plan changed, however, when he discovered the former officer 
dead in his bed on the morning of Feb. 3.

After snorting cocaine the afternoon before his death, Staley went to 
bed early not feeling well and appeared to sleep the entire night, 
Danser recalled.

Since his death, Danser has gathered some of Staley's belongings 
together in a couple of plastic bags for his son and mother to pick up.

Danser, a Dutch immigrant and retired administrator from the 
University of Toronto's faculty of medicine, also packed away a 
plaque awarded to Staley "in appreciation of your outstanding service 
and dedication as a member of 51 Division Major Crime Unit."

Staff at the unit told The Packet & Times yesterday they didn't know Staley.

He was accepted to the Toronto Police Force in January 1975. He 
married, had a son and divorced.

"The subject's downward spiral into becoming a rogue cop appears to 
have begun during his time spent doing undercover work, when he was 
first exposed to crack cocaine," the court report stated.

After his mother's death in 1992, Staley became more drawn to drug 
abuse, it said, and "into the shadowy margins of the criminal subculture."

In October 1993, he was suspended for three years from the force and 
given six months' probation as a result of unsafe storage of a 
firearm and ammunition charges.

Danser said he met Staley 14 years ago at a bar in Toronto's gay village.

At times, Staley's addiction was frightening, he said, noting Staley 
became paranoid when he was high.

They lived together for nine years at his Maitland Street apartment, 
Danser said. Though he'd always been a good tenant, when "Richard 
came into my life, that quickly changed."

It was during Staley's 18 months of house arrest that Danser saw his 
two-bedroom apartment, where he'd lived for more than 30 years, turn 
into a den for dealers and addicts.

Staley lived cheque to cheque, blowing his cash on drugs, he said.

When his term of house arrest was up, they left to get away from the 
city and drug dealers, taking a train to Cambridge in search of an 
ideal apartment in the country to rent, Danser said.

They bought a pickup truck there in June 2004 and drove first to 
Montreal and then the Maritimes, where they stayed for almost a year.

In Orillia, the former cop with some 30 commendations over his 
27-year career quickly tapped into the local drug scene.

One young dealer even sold him a false product, cheating him out of 
$150 for a piece of soap, something that rarely happened to the 
seasoned cop, Danser said.

Though a hopeless addict, Staley, who also had asthma, was 
charismatic and generous, he recalled.

Once, during a trip to Vancouver, Staley, from the terrace of a 
hotel, noticed a street person sifting through a garbage bin on the 
street below. He left his breakfast, ran down to the street and gave 
the man $150, Danser said.

"Devastated" by the death of his partner, Danser initially called The 
Packet because he was upset at being thrown in a jail cell as a 
result of the investigation into Staley's death.

"I was beside myself with grief."

He now knows officers were merely doing their job.

At the time, however, "too shocked" and in "disbelief" to cope, he 
faked chest pains to get out of the detachment and was taken to 
hospital, Danser said.

He finally left around 11 p.m., wearing nothing more than a thin 
sweatshirt, corduroys and sneakers. "I was released in the middle of 
a snowstorm."

Staley's son and mother stopped by the motel the first day of the 
police investigation, and his body has since been cremated, Danser 
said, adding a funeral is unlikely.

Danser's rent is paid up until the end of the month.

"I don't want to, but I'm going back to Toronto to look for an apartment."

With files from The Canadian Press
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