Pubdate: Thu, 24 Jun 2010
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2010 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Sam Pazzano


BRAMPTON - A veteran Peel regional officer was found guilty Wednesday
of possessing cocaine for trafficking that he stole from an RCMP drug
sting operation known as Project Ocaper.

Justice Casey Hill found Const. Sheldon Cook guilty of all charges,
including possession of property stolen from a police

Hill found that the 42-year-old cop, while on duty, stole what he
believed to be cocaine and also pilfered 21 MP3 players from a police
seizure of at least 465 units on an earlier occasion.

The Peel officers came into possession of the contraband after a
breakdown in a joint Mounties-Peruvian police operation.

The police arranged for the purchase of 147 bricks of cocaine in Peru
and replaced it with white flour. When the bogus shipment reached Lima
airport, one brick was missing and 11 others had been replaced with
concrete powder.

Problems arose when the fake cocaine shipment, now hidden inside 88
boxes of mangoes, arrived at Toronto's Pearson International Airport
on Nov. 16, 2005.

Those packages ended up with Cook and two fellow Peel officers.
Simultaneously, the RCMP's tracking devices hidden in the bricks
ceased functioning.

Two days later, when the tracking devices began working again, the
RCMP found eight ripped-open bricks in a dumpster and 15 more in a
Cambridge house that belonged to Cook.

"Unaware that the 15 packages stolen on Nov. 16-17, 2005 contained
only ersatz cocaine, as well as a GPS tracking device, Cook was caught
when the RCMP unexpectedly traced the device's signals to Cook's home
in Cambridge," Hill said in his ruling Wednesday as he summed up the
Crown's case.

Hill rejected Cook's account that two other officers "colluded to
tailor their evidence and to frame Cook as alleged by the defence."

Those officers were working together with Cook on the night the
shipment was seized.

"Sheldon Cook's account that he had possession of the 15 packages
following the lawful orders of his superior officers is demonstrably
unbelievable," Hill said.

The prosecution argued that Cook believed the cocaine was real when he
brought it home, but once he discovered it was fake he didn't have
time to dispose of it before the RCMP raided his house.

Cook insisted he was innocent and his lawyer Patrick Ducharme alleged
the two other cops are the "true perpetrators."

The other two cops were disciplined under the Police Services Act for
their conduct during the initial seizure. But neither was charged
criminally in this case.

The judge will sentence Cook on Aug. 5. 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D