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Toronto drug cops face 40 charges

ALAN CAIRNS, Special to The Free Press   2004-01-08 03:38:57  

TORONTO -- An American-style police corruption scandal exploded in Toronto yesterday after six former drug squad cops were arrested and charged with 40 Criminal Code offences. The charges stem from allegations that include extortion, thefts and the falsification of notes, police records, court testimony and search warrant affidavits. Four more ex-drug cops are named as unindicted co-conspirators in an alleged conspiracy, but they are not charged.

Scores of Police Services Act charges -- including misconduct, deceit and discreditable conduct -- will be laid against all the indicted and unindicted officers as well as other cops, sources said.

The charges follow a two-year probe by an RCMP-led task force started by Toronto police Chief Julian Fantino two years ago.

Fantino said yesterday he is "deeply saddened and disappointed. Without doubt, and from all points of view, this whole situation is regrettable."

Fantino said the charges are "isolated and confined" and do not distract from the excellent work of Toronto police.

But as many as 150 drug cases have been stayed as a result of the probe and sources say there are concerns more cases will be stayed, convictions appealed and more civil suits filed.

The six officers charged are Staff Sgt. John Schertzer, the former field boss of Team 3 of the Central Field Command drug squad, his lieutenant, Det. Steve Correia, and detectives Joseph Miched, Ray Pollard, Richard Benoit and Ned Maodus.

All but Maodus were fingerprinted, photographed and charged yesterday morning after they surrendered themselves with a lawyer and union officials. They walked in a rear door without handcuffs, which a police association spokesperson said did not constitute special treatment since they were surrendering themselves.

Named as unindicted co-conspirators are: Jason Kondo, Greg Forestall, Jonathan Reid and Mike Turnbull.

Maodus, who has been under virtual house arrest at his parent's Windsor home for almost two years, was among the six accused ushered into the prisoner's box of a Scarborough courtroom.

After a 15-minute bail hearing, all six posted sureties of at least $25,000 and were freed by justice of the peace Inderpaul Chandhoke.

Schertzer, a 28-year veteran known among street-level drug dealers as Boss John, is charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, three counts of attempt to obstruct justice, perjury, theft over $5,000, assault causing bodily harm and extortion.

Correia, Schertzer's reputed deputy, is charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, two counts of attempts to obstruct justice, two counts of perjury, theft over $5,000 and extortion.

Miched faces charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice and two counts each of attempts to obstruct justice and perjury.

Pollard, a 16-year veteran, is charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, perjury and two counts of attempts to obstruct justice.

Benoit, a 12-year veteran, is charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, assault causing bodily harm and extortion.

Maodus, 40, a cop for 15 years, is charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, assault causing bodily harm and extortion and five counts each of attempts to obstruct justice and perjury.

Maodus was charged Monday with two counts of possession of cocaine for the purposes of trafficking, another count relating to heroin and with possession of ecstasy. Police allege they found the drugs March 22, 2002, one day after OPP arrested Maodus on unrelated charges of sexual assault, assault causing bodily harm, two counts of assault, uttering threats and weapons charges.

Maodus, also charged with assaulting a cop in Windsor, has been suspended with pay since his March 2002 arrest.

The other five turned in their badges and weapons yesterday and then were suspended from duty with pay.

Notwithstanding yesterday's charges, Toronto lawyer Edward Sapiano still called for a public inquiry.

"These alleged offences are serious, but not only for police officers, but because of an underlying illness in the system."

Task force head RCMP Chief Supt. John Neily said it "never has been, and never will be, acceptable" for police to be "above the law."

Police union head Rick McIntosh emphasized the accused officers are deemed innocent until proven guilty. He said they are "all experienced and very good officers with clean records" and the allegations are made by "drug dealers and the like."

Mayor David Miller said, "We've always been very proud of our men and women in blue . . . I think any stain on the police services is a stain on the reputation on all of us."

Miller said Fantino has assured him every step has been taken to "get out the rot."

Alan Heisey, Toronto police services board chairperson, said officers deserve fairness under the legal process.

Coun. Case Ootes, a police board member, said even if the alleged wrongdoings are proven, they are isolated occurrences in a 7,000-employee service.

Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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