Hamilton police officer Craig Ruthowsky will stand trial on four criminal charges, an Ontario Court justice ruled Wednesday.

Ruthowsky, who previously served on Hamilton's guns and gangs unit, was arrested in 2015 during a Toronto police gang bust called Project Pharaoh.

He will stand trial on four counts:

  • Corruptly accepting monies
  • Attempting to obstruct justice
  • Trafficking cocaine
  • Criminal breach of trust
Craig Ruthowsky

Craig Ruthowsky walks with his lawyer, Greg Lafontaine, and a colleague of Lafontaine's, out of court last August after a preliminary inquiry in his case began. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

A preliminary inquiry began last August and the evidence presented across 12 hearing dates since then is covered by a publication ban.

On Wednesday, in addition to committing Ruthowsky to trial on four counts, Justice Carol Brewster discharged the count of participating in the activities of a criminal organization. She didn't make a decision on a charge of conspiring to traffic marijuana.

John Pollard, the Crown prosecutor on the case, said he plans to bring that charge forward as part of the trial.

The next date for the case is May 10, when a date will be set for a pretrial in Superior Court. The pretrial will also be covered by a publication ban.

Pollard was pleased with the ruling Wednesday but said the matter is far from over.

"It's just a waystation on the way to trial," he said. "I'm pleased to be moving on but there's still a long way to go before we have a final result."

Greg Lafontaine, defence attorney for Ruthowsky, said the court's discharging his client of the "participate in the activities of a criminal organization" charge was important.

"We're ecstatic that the court concluded that" regarding what he called "by far the most serious charge against my client," Lafontaine said.

 "We are confident that Officer Ruthowsky's innocence will become abundantly clear at the trial."

The officer, a 17-year veteran of the police force, was suspended with pay beginning in June 2012 because of other charges laid under the Ontario Police Services Act. He was taken off the paid suspension list in July 2015.

The June, 2015 Project Pharaoh raid was part of a year-and-a-half investigation into the Monstarz, a Toronto-based criminal organization.

Thirty-two people were arrested across the GTA and in Hamilton, as 50 search warrants were executed simultaneously.

Police seized, in total, 33 kilograms of cocaine, $196,000 Canadian and $18,000 American in cash and 14 firearms.  The total street value of the drugs seized was about $3.8 million.

kelly.bennett@cbc.ca