Pubdate: Tue, 29 Apr 2008
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Toronto Star
Authors: Betsy Powell, and Rob Ferguson
Bookmark: (Corruption - Outside U.S.)


Force Wanted To Sweep Corruption Investigation Under Carpet, Attorney 
For Complainants Says

A Crown attorney's warning that the prosecution of six drug squad 
officers was in jeopardy because Toronto police weren't doing enough 
to help is indicative of a broader desire within the service to 
"sweep it all under the carpet," says the lawyer who represented two 
original complainants.

"My greatest concern is the way the investigation was stacked against 
the prospect of any finding of systemic corruption or misconduct," 
Peter Biro said yesterday.

The largest police corruption case in Canadian history collapsed in 
January after a judge tossed out the charges, blaming the "glacial 
pace" of the prosecution for denying the accused their right to a timely trial.

The Crown has since appealed.

Less than two years earlier, Milan Rupic, chief counsel on the case, 
who works at the attorney general's Crown law office, wrote a letter 
to RCMP Insp. Peter Goulet of the Special Task Force that conducted 
the original three-year, $8 million investigation.

In it, Rupic said the Toronto Police Service was not carrying its 
weight to ensure the case would be ready for trial

"A day of reckoning is upon us. Frankly, I am skeptical that the TPS 
is capable of marshalling the necessary resources to do what is 
necessary on a case of this type," Rupic wrote in the March 29, 2006 letter.

Rupic was also dismayed by the selection of an officer who was 
supposed to become "the new detective sergeant, but who possessed no 
case management experience. This is not a case for inexperienced 
officers; they will get eaten up alive."

He also noted the police work to date had been "barely satisfactory" 
for the purposes of the preliminary inquiry, adding the investigative 
team is "exhausted and in the process of retiring and so far there as 
been no orderly transfer of responsibilities to a new team."

Three years earlier, then-RCMP Chief Supt. John Neily, who led the 
special task force, had written to the Crown law office about 
problems he said he was experiencing.

"The Toronto Police Service has and continues to put significant 
resources into this investigation, literally into the millions of 
dollars," he said in his March 17, 2003 letter.

"Yet each time an issue is raised requiring a response from your 
office, I have to meet with a new attorney, bring them up to date on 
the complexities of this case and then await the next crisis ..."

Biro said he believes Neily and others on the task force "wanted to 
get to the truth." But he said Neily's final report, made public last 
week, shows he wasn't allowed to operate independently. "The 
appointment of the task force was as much an exercise in public 
relations and an effort to shield the force from the public scrutiny 
that a public inquiry would have brought to bear ..."

He points to a section in Neily's report that discusses allegations 
against another group of drug squad officers that weren't probed.

At Queen's Park, Attorney General Chris Bentley wouldn't comment 
because of the appeal.

"There is going to be a very public review of the circumstances that 
led to the trial judge's decision in the specific case," he said.

"It'll be heard in a very public forum, in the Court of Appeal, which 
will examine the history, facts and circumstances. ... We've taken 
steps to expedite that."
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