Calgary police officers charged in corruption probe

Several current and former Calgary police officers are facing charges after a months-long investigation related to corruption, harassment and breach of trust allegations.

Matter being handled by Edmonton's Crown office to avoid any conflicts

Deputy police Chief Ray Robitaille speaks to reporters about the charges announced Wednesday against numerous current and former members of the Calgary Police Service. (CBC)

Several current and former Calgary police officers are facing charges after a months-long investigation related to corruption, harassment and breach of trust allegations.

Retired officer Steve Walton, who was with the CPS from 1978 to 2003, is one of the people facing charges. He started a private investigation firm and was contracting other current and former officers for jobs like surveillance or as guards.

It's alleged he asked current members to use the CPS computer system to run searches for him.

Former Calgary police officer Steve Walton faces charges of bribery and criminal harassment. ( )

A bail hearing was run Wednesday by the Edmonton Crown's office in order to avoid any conflicts, given several of the accused are former Calgary police officers.

There are six people facing charges related to the investigation: Walton, his wife, one of his clients, two current Calgary police officers and a former officer.

Walton, 59, faces charges of criminal harassment, bribing an officer, a charge related to the storage of firearms and perjury.

His wife, 53-year-old Heather Walton, faces the same charges except perjury. She worked as a civilian employee with the CPS from 1990 to 2003.

Ken Carter, 65, a client of Walton's, faces criminal harassment and perjury.

Const. Bryan Morton, 32, faces charges of criminal harassment, breach of trust, bribery and unauthorized use of a computer system.

Morton is a nine-year member of the CPS and was suspended without pay on Aug. 12, 2015.

Sgt. Bradford McNish, 58, faces breach of trust, bribery and unauthorized use of a computer system charges. He is a 14-year member of the CPS and was also suspended with pay on Aug. 12 last year.

The suspension status of both McNish and Morton is currently under review, according to deputy Chief Ray Robitaille.

Tony Braile — who was fired by the Calgary police in February for professional misconduct relating to a 2008 high speed chase — is also charged with criminal harassment, breach of trust and bribery.

Braile had served 21 years with the CPS.

A sensitive arrest protocol was enacted — meaning those charged were asked on Monday to show up at the arrest processing unit on Wednesday — but Braile failed to appear.

The other five were released by an Edmonton Justice of the Peace Wednesday morning, with their release conditions including no-contact orders with the other accused. 

Investigation spanned nearly 2 years

The charges come after Carter was in the middle of a messy child-custody battle. He initially hired Walton's company to track his former common-law spouse, according to CBC sources, and several people were hired to follow the woman around and report on her activity.

The child's mother is the one who made the initial harassment complaint to police.

Robitaille said the investigation was launched in August 2014 before the CPS anti-corruption unit got involved.

Investigators believe Walton and his wife then "engaged the services of three current members of the CPS to unlawfully follow, watch and harass the victim."

"In addition, the members allegedly accessed police databases to gain private information about the victim to assist in their actions," Robitaille said.

The director of law enforcement was notified of the investigation in April 2015 and directed CPS to continue with the investigation themselves.

The file was then sent to the Alberta special prosecutions branch in Edmonton in February 2016 for review, which led to the charges announced Wednesday.

"There's zero tolerance for this type of behaviour in the Calgary Police Service and law enforcement, period," Robitaille said.

Data breach investigation

Another of Walton's clients was a wealthy oil and gas executive who has a flood-affected home on Elbow Drive that had to be evacuated.

Inside the home was a wine cellar worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and the client hired Walton's company to have guards sit outside the home to protect its contents. Those guards were paid $1,000 per shift. 

McNish and Morton are being accused of failing to disclose that employment to the Calgary Police Service. It's believed they made tens of thousands dollars each in extra income.

Those same officers were investigated for data breaches through a review of forensic computer and phone data as part of the criminal harassment investigation. It's alleged they were asked by Walton to gather private information from the internal systems.

Robitaille said he expects a decision about the suspension status of the two current officers will come "within the next month."