1. Hi Guest: Welcome to TRIBE, Toronto's largest and longest running online community. If you'd like to post here, or reply to existing posts on TRIBE, you first have to register on the forum. You can register with your facebook ID or with an email address. Join us!

Toronto police corruption case dismissed on technicality

Discussion in 'TRIBE Main Forum' started by alexd, Dec 8, 2009.

  1. alexd

    alexd Administrator Staff Member

    So the big club district police corruption case has fizzled out. I am unsurprised, considering the stats for convictions when police are charged with anything. It seems that it isn't only on TV that the police get off on technicalities.

    What makes this case particularly interesting is the clubs named in the charges against these officers will be familiar to many on the board here (peel pub, easy on the fifth, distrikt, this is london (pre-ink ownership I think)... the extent of the corruption in the club district seemed quite substantial and although I never went to any of these places during the time in question, i suspect that owners at the other clubs i did frequent must have been shaken down too.

    I guess its fair game for gouging down there now... Or did the shakedowns stop when the charges were laid against those cops. I wonder...

    The star story is here:

    Police corruption case killed by delays

    December 08, 2009

    Peter Small

    Former Det.-Const. William McCormack, son of a former police chief, leaves University Ave. courthouse Dec. 7, 2009, after a judge stayed charges against him and two other police officers. The long, high-profile corruption case involved allegations of payoffs to police by nightclub owners, informants with mob ties and witness intimidation.

    The lead investigator in one of Toronto's major corruption trials is being blamed for much of the delay that led to charges being tossed Monday against two former high-profile police officers.

    After almost six years, Superior Court Justice Bonnie Croll stayed the charges against Det.-Const. William McCormack – son of a former Toronto police chief – and Const. Rick McIntosh, once the popular president of the Toronto police union, ruling that delays had breached their right to a fair trial.

    McCormack and McIntosh were accused of shaking down bar owners in the Entertainment District.

    Croll ruled that Staff Insp. Bryce Evans sparked time-consuming legal problems by the way he managed his informants, "triggered a lengthy adjournment ... delayed the examination of witnesses" and created repeated conflicts with defence lawyers' schedules.

    The case, which led to the officers' arrests in 2004, involved disturbing allegations and afforded a unique glimpse into the murky world of Toronto's club scene:

    Police officers being paid off by nightclub owners to obtain liquor licences and avoid liquor and overcrowding charges.

    Secretly recorded conversations of club operators, some with mob ties, describing officers being given free meals and cash payments.

    A police informant, Neil Peluso, alleged to have high-ranking mob ties, out to get corrupt officers.

    Investigators on the case intimidating witnesses to the point where one fled town.

    This is the second major Toronto police corruption case in two years thrown off course by Crown delays.

    In January 2008, Ontario Superior Court Justice Ian Nordheimer stayed charges against six former members of an elite police drug squad. That decision, however, was overturned on appeal.

    In testimony at a preliminary hearing into the Entertainment District case, Evans admitted to telling Peluso, his key source, that he would be a confidential informant, which would protect his anonymity, while actually running him as an agent, which did not. This led to lengthy court battles between defence and Crown over the informant's true status.

    Croll is the second judge on this case to criticize Evans. Preliminary hearing Justice George Beatty said his deception caused "substantial harm to the course of justice."

    Evans could not be reached for comment and Toronto Police Services spokesperson Mark Pugash said police were not ready to comment.

    The Ontario Superior Court judge also criticized the Crown for problems in providing timely disclosure of evidence for the defence and the calling of witnesses.

    She also stayed charges against Const. George Kouroudis, a co-accused, who ran a bar on the side.

    The Crown has not decided whether to appeal.

    Monday's decision may be the end of the road for a contentious investigation that began in 2003 when detectives probing mob activity in Greater Toronto stumbled across allegations that police officers were demanding cash in return for help with liquor licensing issues.

    Investigators came to believe that McCormack – son of former chief William McCormack Sr. and brother of the recently elected police union head, Mike McCormack – had money troubles and a heavy gambling habit, according to affidavits to obtain wiretaps filed at the preliminary hearing.

    They suspected he was getting paid off by nightclub owners and that he teamed up with McIntosh – then president of the Toronto Police Association – to demand $50,000 from Peel Pub on King St. W. for help in obtaining a liquor licence, according to testimony at the hearing.

    The Entertainment District investigation began when detectives with Project ORA, an RCMP-led multi-force probe into drug and organized crime, learned of alleged payouts to officers.

    In response, investigators recruited as their chief informant Peluso, one of the bar owners under surveillance and allegedly a high-ranking member of the Commisso crime family.

    Evans, then a detective-sergeant with Toronto police's professional standards branch – which investigates wrongdoing within the force – led the probe, which was dubbed Project Bar District. Peluso told him that club owners were regularly paying off as many as eight officers and that McCormack boasted he was the "new sheriff in town," according to affidavits to obtain wiretaps.

    After a year-long investigation, in May 2004, McCormack, 50, and McIntosh, 55, were charged with several counts, including influence peddling and breach of trust.

    Allegations related to the case were subject to a publication ban at the preliminary hearing. With the charges now stayed, evidence at the hearing can be made public. However, none of the allegations has been proven.

    Project Bar District involved five sets of allegations, presented by the Crown at the preliminary hearing:

    That Daniel Contogiannis and Jonathan Vrozos, co-owners of Peel Pub, paid McCormack and McIntosh $30,000 to $32,000 for help in obtaining a liquor licence and in dealing with infractions;

    That Joe Gagliano and Vito Barbaro, part-owners of Distrikt club on Peter St., paid McCormack thousands of dollars to speed the issuance of their mysteriously delayed liquor licence, and to avoid charges.

    That McCormack warned fellow constable George Kouroudis of "surprise" liquor inspections he was making at Lotus, a club the officer ran against the wishes of his superiors.

    That McCormack improperly helped Hotel nightclub avoid an overcrowding charge after its doorman, Claudio Schiavi, approached him for help.

    That McCormack used his influence to help his friend, Oliver Geddes, operator of three clubs – Easy and The Fifth, Money and This is London – to avoid liquor licence convictions.

    In McCormack's defence, his lawyer argued in written submissions at the hearing that the Crown was seeking to criminalize conduct that, at most, was administrative fault or "errors in judgment."

    While McCormack borrowed money from some club owners, that may be a police disciplinary issue, not a crime, wrote his counsel, Jay Naster.

    In addition, Peluso was out to destroy McCormack, Naster argued. In one wiretap, Peluso was overheard saying: "I'm gonna f---ing rat him out ... I'm gonna f---ing set him up."

    McIntosh, through his lawyer, Peter Brauti, denied having any improper influence over the process of obtaining a liquor licence for Peel Pub. Nor did he have any discussions about liquor law enforcement, Brauti said in written arguments at the preliminary hearing.

    Jeffrey Manishen, the special prosecutor on the case, said outside court that the issues were complex.

    "This prosecution was probably the most complicated case I've had involvement in in 30 years of practice," Manishen said.

    Manishen said he wants an opportunity to review the decision and discuss it with senior Crown counsel, who will determine whether to appeal.

    Brauti, McIntosh's lawyer, said he is pleased with the result, but disappointed with the way the accused were treated and the delays they experienced. "You can't avoid looking at the aftermath and the wake of destruction that this case left."

    McIntosh is pleased, exhausted and angry about what he was put through, Brauti said.

    McCormack himself would only say, "I'm fine."

    William McCormack Sr., a former Toronto police chief, said his family was relieved by Monday's decision. "And, as I've always said, in 41 years of policing I have had the pleasure of knowing that justice, the administration of justice will always be there."

    Police corruption case killed by delays - thestar.com
  2. DaPhatConductor

    DaPhatConductor TRIBE Promoter

    Evil wins again!

    What a surprise!
  3. AshG

    AshG Member

    a technicality is something like someone filed in the wrong date on a court order or used the wrong motion to file for evidence.

    this is not a technicality, its an extremely important part of the law.
    everyone deserves to have their trial heard in short order.

    if the prosecution can't get their shit together or simply are unwilling to do so, to the detriment of the accused throughout the pretrial ordeal, that's their own, incompetent fault.
  4. Flashy_McFlash

    Flashy_McFlash Well-Known TRIBEr

    moar reposted news stories pls
  5. emiwee

    emiwee TRIBE Member

    While I'm not entirely happy to see that this prosecution is not going to go through, to say that it was "dismissed on a technicality" is dismissive of enshrined constitutional rights. A stay was granted on the basis of unreasonable delay. It is a Charter right to be tried within a reasonable time if one is charged with an offence (s. 11(b)).

    Police corruption cases are incredibly difficult to prosecute, requiring significant disclosure, special prosecutors (in many cases), and time. Lots of time.

    Recently, the Drug Squad guys from the 1990s (Schertzer et al.), who had been granted a stay previously on the basis of unreasonable delay, were ordered to stand trial again after a successful appeal by the Crown in the Ontario Court of Appeal. That case illustrates how long it often takes to bring these cases to trial and all of the pieces and players involved.

    I believe that the Supreme Court of Canada is going to soon revisit the analytical framework for unreasonable delay. It may be time for a reconsideration on the basis of cases like these and the increasing pressures on the criminal justice system.
  6. AshG

    AshG Member

    what makes you believe this?
    i'm not sure how this case changes any of the 4 main factors that every such motion addresses in 11b fillings.

    in this case, the judge was well aware of the requirements of the case and in spite of that, upheld the motion.
    that tells me the prosecution fucked up, and big.
  7. alexd

    alexd Administrator Staff Member

    The vibe I get from the Star story is that the prosecution was frustrated by a one cop (Evans) not making their job easier. It just sounds like they were all colluding in the delays, and counting on the charter to kick in to dismiss the case eventually. Problem solved.

    While not technically a technicality, I don't think it honors the spirit of why that charter provision exists.

    I must ask my bud who was a manager at My Apartment at the time what he thinks about the whole deal. They were apparently one of the places that didn't make payoffs and as a result got infractions more frequently.

    It would be interesting to read all the wiretap transcripts, or at least post them on the internet somewhere for posterity.
  8. AshG

    AshG Member

    well this is a common misconception about how the 11b works.
    there is no such thing as a single time, after which it kicks in magically and shunts the accused off to freedom trail. its an extremely flexible timeline and depends on many factors; a judge does not look at the case and simply say its been x months already and that's just too long.

    there are 4 separate components to a successful 11b motion that must be argued, and while time is the central theme, it is how the time from accusation to trial affects the trial itself that is the central focus. in particular, it is how the delay introduces bias into the trial itself, and also how the delay affects the day to day living of the accused that is important. and remember, these are - at the end of the day - accusations.

    while it might be true that the defendants acted in an ungainly way to delay the trial, it is up to the prosecution to see to it that shit gets done.
    and besides, if you were accused of something of a criminal nature and knew the cards were already stacked against you, would you not attempt to defend yourself in every way possible?
    if i were a defendant and my lawyer was not persuing an 11b i'd fire them immediately.
  9. why not

    why not TRIBE Member

    the two biggest police corruption cases in recent memory derailed by "delays"?

    whether it's to prosecutor fucking up, or the cops impeding the investigation, something is going seriously wrong with the way that we handle these kinds of cases.

    just the other night a club owner was ranting to me about how the only bars that can afford to operate in the current nightlife-unfriendly environment are the ones that are fronts for laundering money. unfortunately no one will ever say that shit on the record, for obvious reasons.
  10. acheron

    acheron TRIBE Member

  11. alexd

    alexd Administrator Staff Member

    on the fifth
  12. JamesM

    JamesM TRIBE Member

    I wanna easy button. I shall press it when i get my next lotto numbers.

  13. emiwee

    emiwee TRIBE Member

    What makes me believe what?

    I didn't say that there was any problem with the way that the trial judge applied the current framework. I haven't yet read the full decision, but I do know firsthand how much work went into drafting it.

    I also didn't say that this case in particular changes any of the factors to be considered on an 11(b) application. I said that it's my understanding that the Supreme Court of Canada may be revisiting the analytical framework regarding 11(b) applications - but I could be wrong about this. The Supreme Court of Canada does sometimes revisit and revise analytical frameworks for constitutional, evidentiary, substantive, and other issues, depending on the cases that come their way. The authoritative cases in regards to 11(b) (Morin; Askov) are almost 20 years old and this could mean that change might be needed.

    Most successful 11(b) motions aren't because "the prosecution fucked up, and big," and until I've read the full decision in this particular case, I'm not willing to make that kind of conclusory statement about the conduct of the prosecution. Such motions often involve a complex inquiry into whether the delay is attributable to prosecution or defence and whether prejudice was suffered by the defence, as well as the basic calculation of the total time and whether there was waiver. Most cases involve delay by both sides.

    And while your legal counsel should be alert to a possible 11(b) situation (as the case develops), it shouldn't be the case that all counsel should be pursuing 11(b) motions in all cases right from the start. Frivolous defence motions are also problematic and a waste of court time.
  14. alexd

    alexd Administrator Staff Member

    I wonder if the police are still shaking down the club owners, or has that stopped now?
  15. People are looking for justice where the law is being applied.

    I'm not happy with the decision, esp. in light of the guy who took over Lotus even when he was told no by Fantino and did anyways. But is anyone really surprised of this decision when you're dealing with a former police chief's son?
  16. AshG

    AshG Member

    this, just what you said:

    why would this case in particular merit an entire renewed look at 11b's?
    The Askov case was precedent setting for excellent reasons; reasons that stand today.

    Did i say most were? No.
    I certainly said this was, and perhaps that's because I've read the prosecutions comments regarding the case, which were desultory at best.

    Most successful 11b's arise out of problems with the system itself and delays due to systemic bureaucracy, but in this case, I cannot help but think it is down to incompetence, lack of will, or lack of resources, or all 3 on the part of the prosecution.

    Hell the judge herself called out the lead investigator as the cause of the ridiculous 6 year delay, and the reason for granting the 11b. Part of the job of the prosecution is to manage your witnesses and evidence, and ultimately the buck stops with them in failing to do this in grand fashion.

    Imo there are 2 excellent reasons for granting the 11b:

    1) the ridiculous length of the delay(6 years!)
    2) the REASON for this delay (incompetence resulting in endless adjournments leading to point 1)

    And there is one very good reason for NOT granting the 11b:

    1) the case is very complex.

    But there's the rub - the more complex the case, the longer the delay would be tolerated, purely to allow for the complexities to be unraveled. Any complexity to this case would give ample reason for judge Croll to not grant the stay.

    Take it from the lead investigator's own mouth:

    "This prosecution was probably the most complicated case I've had involvement in in 30 years of practice," Manishen said.

    Well if that's so, then it is in SPITE of this complexity that the stay was granted.

    I do sympathize with how difficult it must be to manage something like this, but shit, that's his fucking job.
  17. Boss Hog

    Boss Hog TRIBE Member

    How else do we get conversation started on anything around here?
  18. saskboy

    saskboy TRIBE Member

    Couldn't a case be made the the fact that the defendants were out on bail rather than in custody that more leeway can used in allowing for delays.

    Sometimes I so wanna be a lawyer.
  19. emiwee

    emiwee TRIBE Member

    Again, I didn't say that it was this particular case that was going to lead to a renewed look at 11(b) cases. I said that I believed I had heard that the Supreme Court was going to revisit this issue soon - on the basis of another case that has probably already gone to a provincial appellate court and is making its way up.

    Again, I haven't read the actual decision, so I'm not willing to make any comment about why the stay was actually granted. Comments from a news story, however, should be taken with a grain of salt as they only tell a small part of the story. While I will agree that 6 years is a long time, the Ontario Court of Appeal recently overturned the stay for the Schertzer case and it was in the 6 year area too.
  20. DaPhatConductor

    DaPhatConductor TRIBE Promoter

    so should they release the 9/11 suspects then? and everyone else at guantanamo?

  21. Subsonic Chronic

    Subsonic Chronic TRIBE Member

    More fun...

    Toronto drug officers face more corruption accusations

    Nothing to see here...
  22. AshG

    AshG Member

    u cannot be this dense.

    sometimes i wonder about the people walking upright in this world.

Share This Page