Pubdate: Mon, 17 Aug 2009
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 The Toronto Star
Author: Bob Mitchell, Staff Reporter


A veteran Peel police officer today denied stealing 15 bricks of 
phony cocaine from a botched RCMP sting operation.

Const. Sheldon Cook insisted he was told by his bosses to take the
packages home to Cambridge when he discovered them in the trunk of his
police cruiser after his shift ended in the early hours of Nov. 17,

He said he intended to drop the packages off at the morality squad's
offices later that morning on his way to court.

"I never thought I was leaving with a trunk full of drugs," Cook said,
testifying at his Brampton trial. He'd been told the drugs were flour,
not cocaine.

Federal prosecutors David Rowcliffe and Ania Weiler say Cook took the
drugs, which he believed were real, during his involvement as part of
Det. Marty Rykhoff's crew investigating the seizure of 102 bricks of
suspected cocaine from a courier truck the night before.

The drugs turned out to be flour, part of an RCMP controlled delivery
from Peru to Canada that went missing 12 hours earlier after arriving
at Pearson International Airport.

Cook, 40, has pleaded not guilty to seven criminal charges in this
judge alone trial before Justice Casey Hill that began last November.

Instead of turning the dummy drugs into morality squad officers, Cook
said another officer, Act.Det. Warren Williams, left him a cell
message telling him to hold onto the packages until the afternoon
morality shift started.

"He (Williams) Rykhoff confirmed it was flour. He knows you have the
15 packages," Cook said.

Cook's Maxima was scheduled to be serviced that day. He said that as
he took the box from his car, but it broke and the packages scattered
across the floor of his garage. He said he put them in a compartment
in his recreational watercraft and went to court.

Cook left a message for Williams, explaining what happened in his
garage and told him that he would return the packages as instructed.

Cook said he was surprised the night before when he found the packages
inside a rotting box of mangoes in the trunk of his cruiser when he
went to retrieve personal items at the end of his shift.

"I knew it was from the packages we found earlier in the evening,"
Cook said.

He told Det.Sgt. Daniel Philipps and Williams what he found. He was
standing with them when Rykhoff told them to "secure" the packages and
he would make arrangements to get them to be transferred to morality

Cook heard Rykhoff say over a mic-phone that the stuff "looked iike it
wasn't drugs" and "not to worry."

The RCMP arrived at his home at 11 a.m. Investigators used a GPS
signal hidden in the missing box to locate the bricks in the personal

A search warrant also uncovered marijuana and several MP3 players
allegedly taken from an unrelated investigation

Cook is charged with attempt to possess a controlled substance for the
purpose of trafficking, possession of marijuana for the purpose of
trafficking, possession of stolen property (MP3 players) from a police
investigation and breach of trust as a police officer. He remains
suspended with pay.

The trial continues tomorrow.
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