OPP reviewing allegations involving Councillor Justin Di Ciano, sources say

Ontario Provincial Police investigators have been asked to review allegations involving Coun. Justin Di Ciano that surfaced during a probe by the city of Toronto's integrity commissioner, CBC Toronto has learned.

Di Ciano denies wrongdoing, claims he is the victim of 'a criminal act'

The city of Toronto's integrity commissioner has asked the OPP to review an investigation involving Coun. Justin Di Ciano. (CBC)

Ontario Provincial Police investigators have been asked to review allegations involving Coun. Justin Di Ciano that surfaced during a probe by the city of Toronto's integrity commissioner, CBC Toronto has learned.  

For the past year, Commissioner Valerie Jepson has been investigating a Code of Conduct complaint against the councillor. She's obligated to alert authorities if any other more serious alleged breach surfaces.

She was looking into whether Di Ciano may have benefited financially or politically from his relationship with an Etobicoke developer. But Di Ciano, who represents Ward 5, Etobicoke-Lakeshore, denies the accusations and has now told CBC Toronto he is the victim of a "criminal act."

Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash confirms that Jepson's office "contacted [Toronto Police Chief Mark] Saunders about a matter she was obviously concerned with" and asked him to investigate."

Councillor Di Ciano has a long and close relationship with Dunpar. It has been a relationship that has been both financially and politically rewarding for him.- Complaint to Integrity Commissioner Valerie Jepson


​Neither Pugash nor Jepson's office would say what matter is being investigated or which councillor it involves.

Pugash would only say that Saunders "took into account all the factors and decided the most appropriate way to investigate this was through the OPP."

Multiple sources say the review does involve Di Ciano.

CBC Toronto has learned that members of the Ontario Provincial Police's anti-rackets branch have been in contact with Jepson's staff. Since late September, the branch has been deciding what steps, if any, to take.

OPP Staff Sergeant Carole Dionne told CBC Toronto "the OPP can't comment on any investigation of this matter at this time."

Dionne added that "the Toronto police service has in the past referred potential criminal investigations to us where a possible conflict of interest is alleged."

In this case, sources say Toronto police decided to hand the review to the OPP to avoid even the appearance of a possible conflict. After all, city councillors set the police budget and can sit on the Toronto police board.

Allegation: Di Ciano benefited 'financially and politically'

The integrity commissioner's investigation has centred on allegations that Di Ciano has benefited improperly from personal and business ties with Etobicoke-based developer Dunpar Homes Ltd., as first reported by CBC Toronto last May.

The investigation began after Di Ciano and Coun. Mark Grimes, who represents Ward 6 Etobicoke-Lakeshore, pushed for changes to a report that ended up benefiting Dunpar. 

Dunpar Homes Ltd. submitted a rezoning application so they could build 72 townhomes and a commercial building on this outlined section of land. (Google)
 

At the request of an Etobicoke resident, Jepson launched an investigation.

"Councillor Di Ciano has a long and close relationship with Dunpar. It has been a relationship that has been both financially and politically rewarding for him," the resident's affidavit reads.

Di Ciano claims he is the victim of 'a criminal act'

In an emailed statement to CBC Toronto, Di Ciano wrote, "you are categorically mistaken about any notion that the integrity commissioner has referred her investigation into my conduct to police.

"To the contrary, the commissioner has in fact referred this matter to authorities on information I brought to her," Di Ciano wrote.

"I provided the integrity commissioner several months ago with information I was concerned constituted a criminal act against me," the email reads.  

"The information I provided had nothing to do with my conduct."

The councillor says he has the evidence to back up his claim.

"The integrity commissioner is obligated to act on this type of information" he stated, "I am glad she did. It is time the real story come out."

However, under the City of Toronto Act complaint protocol, it's not the duty of the commissioner to contact police if a councillor claims to be the victim of a crime.

The protocol states the councillor, or complainant "must pursue it with the appropriate police force."

The councillor did not respond to questions offering him the opportunity to discuss what kind of crime he was the victim of.  Nor would he say whether he has reported the crime to police.

In his statement, he did say: "To date, I have not heard from any police department, with respect to any of the matters above, or into my own conduct."

Former RCMP boss hired to assist with investigation

CBC Toronto has learned Jepson has retained a former high ranking RCMP officer to assist with her office's investigation.

Craig Hannaford was a RCMP superintendent who was in charge of the agency's commercial crime section. He is currently a partner at Inquisit Solutions-a private investigations and intelligence firm.

Inquisit did not return a phone call from CBC News.

It's not clear what, if anything, will come out of Jepson's investigation or the police review.

John Lancaster can be reached at 416-205-7538, or at john.lancaster@cbc.ca

About the Author

John Lancaster

Senior Reporter, CBC Toronto

John Lancaster is a senior reporter with CBC News focusing on investigative and enterprise journalism. He is a life long resident of Toronto but his stories have taken him across Canada, the US and the Caribbean. His work appears on CBC Toronto, The National and CBC's Marketplace-and of course CBC online and radio. Drop him a line anytime at john.lancaster@cbc.ca.