HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Officer Who Led Armed Robbers Given Nine Years
Pubdate: Wed, 28 Feb 2001
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2001 Southam Inc.
Contact:  300 - 1450 Don Mills Road, Don Mills, Ontario M3B 3R5
Fax: (416) 442-2209
Author: Chris Eby, National Post
Bookmark: (Corruption)


Accomplices Sentenced: 'Any Policeman Going To Jail Should Be Concerned'

A Toronto Police officer was sentenced to 9 1/2 years in prison yesterday 
for his part in a three-month crime spree during which he and his gang 
robbed drug dealers and plotted an Ecstasy trafficking scheme prosecutors 
said was the biggest on record in Canada.

Darin Cooper's crimes cast a shadow over all police services, said Ontario 
Court Justice William Gorewich, before sentencing the former detective.

"Your crimes have shaken the community and the citizens' confidence in the 
police," he said.

Cooper, a 10-year veteran of the Toronto force, resigned last week after a 
year under house arrest. He was convicted of armed robbery and breach of trust.

He admitted using police intelligence to track down high-level drug dealers 
in the Toronto area and rob them with the help of his gang -- which he 
outfitted with badges, service issue handguns and police body armour -- 
beginning in December, 1999.

The five members of his gang, convicted of drug and robbery charges, were 
given sentences ranging from one to six years yesterday.

Cooper's associates, whom he met at a local gym where they shared an 
interest in bodybuilding and steroid use, planned to use the stolen money 
to bankroll the importation of $6-million of Ecstasy from a shadowy 
international supplier known as The Paki.

Outside court, Detective Sergeant Bill Sornberger, one of the officers who 
arrested Cooper, confirmed rumours that prisoners with ties to the 
gangsters Cooper robbed may try to take revenge on the former police officer.

"Any policeman going to jail should be concerned about their safety. Any 
policeman who was robbing people who have connections in the jails should 
be even more concerned," he said.

Meanwhile, a man who identified himself as a member of the Hells Angels 
observed the proceedings and afterward accosted a Toronto Star reporter, 
insisting none of the drug dealers Cooper and his gang stole from had any 
connections with bikers.

It had been reported in the media that on Feb. 19, 2000, Cooper and his 
cohorts, dressed as police officers, robbed two Montreal biker gang 
associates staying in a airport motel of $50,000 of Ecstasy and cash.

Also at the proceedings yesterday was Michael Wassilyn, whose son, Mike 
Jr., was one of Cooper's gang.

The senior Mr. Wassilyn claims to be the illegitimate son of Harold 
Ballard, the late Toronto Maple Leafs, owner, and is one of the best known 
ticket scalpers in the city.

As his son walked in to the courthouse elevator, destined for the police 
van that would take him to jail, Mr. Wassilyn shouted, "Don't worry, you'll 
make that million [dollars] when you get out.

"Study hard, now."

Other relatives and friends of blew kisses and bid tearful farewells as the 
thick-necked crew boarded the elevator.

Cooper's parents, Elmer and Barbara, hugged and kissed their son before the 
day's proceedings began and left the courtroom quickly after he was sentenced.

The former police officer originally faced 29 charges, among them attempted 
murder in connection with a shootout that occurred last winter on Highway 
404, a main route that links Toronto to the suburbs.

An SUV driven by a man prosecutors have described as an "Ecstasy-dealing 
kingpin" was riddled with bullet holes when another car drove alongside it 
and the occupants began firing. No one was hurt.

Edward Greenspan, Cooper's lawyer, told the court last week his client's 
addiction to steroids coupled with his clinical depression led to his "fall 
from grace and a three-month downward spiral into hell."
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