Judge tosses Ruthowsky's 'baseless' stay motion, sentencing hearing coming next week

Justice Robert Clark threw out a defence motion for a stay of proceedings in a Toronto courtroom Monday morning, calling it a “baseless and specious argument.”

Corrupt cop still collecting paycheque until he is sentenced

Defence lawyer Greg Lafontaine questions his client, Craig Ruthowsky, in court last month. Ruthowsky was found guilty of charges including cocaine trafficking and bribery in Superior Court in Toronto. (Pam Davies/CBC)

Corrupt Hamilton cop Craig Ruthowsky will have a sentencing hearing next week.

Justice Robert Clark threw out a defence motion for a stay of proceedings in a Toronto courtroom Monday morning, calling it a "baseless and specious argument."

The crux of the defence's argument on the motion was Ruthowsky had an unfair trial because a lead investigator on his case, Hamiton police Staff Sgt. Ben Thibodeau, is married to a woman Ruthowsky once dated.

"No abuse of process has been demonstrated," Clark said, as he picked apart and dismissed the defence's motion, piece by piece.

Ruthowsky, 44, was found guilty on charges of bribery, obstruction of justice, breach of trust and cocaine trafficking late last month. A jury found that he was helping the criminals he was supposed to be investigating in a pay for protection scheme.

This matter has to come to a conclusion. This has gone on far too long.- Justice Robert Clark

A sentencing hearing was expected last Friday, but was pushed back by the stay in proceedings motion brought forward by Ruthowsky's lawyers. That's a motion seeking an order preventing — either temporarily or permanently — any further action on a prosecution.

Ruthowsky's lawyer, Greg Lafontaine, said in his arguments that the prior relationship meant Thibodeau had an "inherent conflict of interest" in investigating the case.

Ruthowsky actually invited to Thibodeau's wedding

The judge roundly dismissed that argument.

"I reject the proposition that Thibodeau bore some animus to the applicant," he said.

Though Ruthowsky's lawyers said Thibodeau started dating his current wife right after she split up with Ruthowsky, Thibodeau said in a sworn affidavit that he didn't actually meet his wife until June of 2004 — almost three years after her relationship with Ruthowsky had ended.

Thibodeau also said in the affidavit that he even invited Ruthowsky to his wedding in August of 2007, but Ruthowsky didn't go.

Thibodeau didn't disclose any of this to upper management at Hamilton police because he felt it was "so far in the past as to be a non-issue," court heard.

"There was nothing about [Thibodeau's] conduct that directly affected the fairness of the applicant's trial," the judge said.

Ruthowsky still getting a paycheque

Until he is sentenced, Ruthowsky will continue to collect his paycheque from Hamilton police.

The trigger that would allow police to stop paying him is a sentence with a jail term — something the Crown has said it will be pushing for.

But until that happens, under the current Police Services Act legislation, Hamilton police have to keep paying him.

Ruthowsky was actually suspended back in June of 2012, but he's been collecting cheques from the public purse ever since.

During three of those years, Ruthowsky even popped up on The Sunshine List, which tracks the province's highest paid public sector earners. He made over $104,000 last year, over $107,000 in 2015, and over $109,000 in 2012.

Lafontaine asked the judge for the sentencing hearing to happen next month, but Clark shot that idea down immediately.

"The public is entitled to speedy justice," Clark said.

"This matter has to come to a conclusion. This has gone on far too long."

The sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 23.


About the Author

Adam Carter

Reporter, CBC Hamilton

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