Hamilton

Corrupt cop Ruthowsky fails to pay $250K fine, now faces another 3 years in prison

A former Hamilton cop who was convicted in a pay-for-protection scheme is now facing the prospect of an additional three years being tacked onto his sentence because he did not pay a fine.
Former Hamilton police officer Craig Ruthowsky has missed the cut-off date to pay a $250,000 fine as part of his sentence. (Adam Carter/CBC)

A former Hamilton cop who was convicted in a massive pay-for-protection scheme with a crew of drug dealers is now facing the prospect of an additional three years being tacked onto his sentence because he did not pay a fine.

When Justice Robert Clark sentenced Craig Ruthowsky to 12½ years in a federal penitentiary last year, he also ordered the veteran police officer to pay back $250,000 — the amount the judge said Ruthowsky took in bribes.

If Ruthowsky didn't pay, three more years would be tacked onto his sentence, Clark ordered.

It's been a year, and Ruthowsky still hasn't paid the fine, Assistant Crown Attorney John Pollard confirmed Thursday. However, there are still several steps that would have to occur before additional time is officially added to his sentence, he said.

"With the size of the fine and the length of the sentence, we'll be watching this closely," Pollard said.

Now, Ruthowsky will be issued a notice of default and given another chance to pay the fine. If he still doesn't, the court could seize property in lieu of payment, Pollard said.

If that doesn't work, Ruthowsky would be brought to court and asked if there's a "reasonable excuse" for not paying the fine, Pollard said.

"Depending on that answer, he could be looking at additional time," he said.

Defence lawyer Greg Lafontaine, left, questions his former client, Craig Ruthowsky, during his first trial. Ruthowsky has since switched lawyers. Justice Robert Clark and Assistant Crown Attorney John Pollard look on. (Pam Davies/CBC)

Ruthowsky has made hundreds of thousands of dollars since he was arrested. He sat in prison for seven months last year — yet still made over $104,000 in 2018.

He had been suspended with pay since June of 2012, as his case wound through the courts. He made over $104,000 in 2017, over $107,000 in 2015, and over $109,000 in 2012.

Ruthowsky has dropped his former lawyer, Greg Lafontaine, and is now being represented by defence lawyer Scott Hutchison.

Hutchison did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ruthowsky was originally charged after being caught on police wiretaps as part of a massive Toronto police guns and gangs investigation called "Project Pharaoh."

At last year's trial, the jury heard from a trio of drug dealers but also from police officers from jurisdictions like Hamilton and Toronto, who testified about police practices and procedures, as well as their interactions with Ruthowsky.

After a preliminary inquiry, a court ruled in February that Ruthowsky will also stand trial on a second set of corruption-related charges.

The charges stem from a Hamilton police investigation separate from the one that led to his first trial, linked to events that took place between 2009 and 2012.

Pollard said that trial will take place in Hamilton, likely sometime next year.

adam.carter@cbc.ca

About the Author

Adam Carter

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Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Toronto home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.

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