Thunder Bay police chief charged after allegedly disclosing confidential information concerning city's mayor

Criminal charges against the chief of police in Thunder Bay, Ont., stem from allegations that he disclosed confidential information concerning the city's mayor, according to court documents.

J.P. Levesque is charged with breach of trust and obstructing justice

Thunder Bay police Chief J.P. Levesque is charged with breach of trust and obstructing justice. (Cathy Alex/CBC)

Criminal charges against the chief of police in Thunder Bay, Ont., stem from allegations that he disclosed confidential information concerning the city's mayor, according to court documents.

J.P. Levesque is charged with breach of trust and obstructing justice. He was arrested on Tuesday after a five-month investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police.

The breach is alleged to have occurred between Dec. 14-22, 2016.

He has been ordered to abstain from contact with Mayor Keith Hobbs, the city manager, the deputy chief of police, members of the police services board and police officers.

When asked for comment by CBC News on Wednesday before it was known that he was named in the allegations, Hobbs said Levesque "is just a nice guy and I wish him well."

Levesque is currently on medical leave.

CBC News asked several members of Thunder Bay's police services board if Levesque has been suspended. The question was directed to the board's lawyer, Bob Edwards, who did not return calls from CBC News.

Provincial police will not say when the police services board was notified the police chief was under investigation. They also will not say to whom the information was disclosed.

"The OPP will not comment further in order to protect the integrity of the investigation and the ongoing court process," a spokesperson said in an email.

The maximum penalty for the charge of breach of trust is 14 years in jail, according to a criminologist who studies police accountability.

"Criminal charges for a chief of police are very rare and for something like breach of trust, almost unheard of in North America and western Europe," said the University of Ottawa's Michael Kempa.

Levesque has been a police officer for three decades and chief of Thunder Bay police since July 2011.

"Mr. Levesque looks forward to fully responding to the allegations against him, and to his ultimate vindication," his lawyer Brian Gover said in a statement released Tuesday.

Levesque is scheduled to appear in court on June 13.