New Brunswick

Lawyer alleges RCMP officers destroyed drug case surveillance video

Three Codiac Regional RCMP officers charged with obstruction of justice destroyed a portion of surveillance video recorded as part of a drug trafficking investigation, a lawyer has alleged in court.

Nathan Gorham said in court the officers didn’t like what was on recording

A joint forces investigation led to police raiding homes in the Moncton and Fredericton areas in August 2019 as part of a months-long investigation into alleged drug trafficking. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Three Codiac Regional RCMP officers charged with obstruction of justice destroyed a portion of surveillance video recorded as part of a drug trafficking investigation, a lawyer has alleged in court. 

Cpl. Mathieu Potvin, 32, Const. Eric Pichette, 39, and Const. Graham Bourque, 32, each face a single count of obstructing justice by destroying evidence during a criminal investigation.

The alleged destruction happened May 15, 2019.

RCMP have not said what the evidence was, or which investigation was affected.

Defence lawyer Nathan Gorham last week said in court that the officers destroyed a portion of video as part of an investigation into his client, Jesse Todd Logue. 

Logue was charged after RCMP and other police forces executed five search warrants on Aug. 28, 2019 targeting an alleged drug-trafficking operation in the Moncton, Fredericton and Woodstock areas.

Defence lawyer Nathan Gorham, shown outside the Moncton courthouse in 2020, alleged the officers charged destroyed a portion of video recorded as part of an investigation of his client, Jesse Todd Logue. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Gorham was in court Friday as Logue sought to challenge his stay in segregation in jail while awaiting trial.

During that appearance, Gorham told the court that the three officers charged had destroyed the evidence because they didn't like what was on it.

Gorham declined to comment to CBC. 

Const. Hans Ouellette, a spokesperson for the RCMP in New Brunswick, said it would inappropriate for the force to comment on the case as it is now in court. 

The three officers were suspended with pay on Dec. 15 and charged Dec. 28. They are scheduled to appear in court on March 15.

Police have offered no details about how the allegations against the three officers surfaced, or how long the three continued working on other investigations. 

An RCMP spokesperson wouldn't answer questions about the timeline.

Court documents show the investigation of the officers was carried out by an officer with the RCMP in Montreal. 

An RCMP news release said eight people were arrested in the raids, though Logue is the only person who has been charged. 

A news release says a 25-year-old man from Moncton, a 29-year-old man from Riverview, and a 20-year-old woman and 49-year-old man, both from Maugerville, were issued promises to appear in Moncton provincial court on Dec. 3, 2019.

RCMP later told CBC they weren't charged. It wasn't clear why.

"The investigation is still continuing, but as of today no one else that was arrested has been charged," Cpl. Jullie Rogers-Marsh, a spokesperson for New Brunswick RCMP, wrote in a June 25, 2020 email.

Another case the officers worked on that was set for trial this week has now been delayed, in part because of the officer's alleged actions.

Potvin, one of the three officers charged, is listed as a media contact in a Feb. 20, 2020 news release about a drug seizure during a traffic stop that led to charges against two men.

Lawyer Mathieu Boutet represents one of the two charged. The trial was set to start Monday, with two of the three officers now charged expected to be testifying. 

Boutet said the case was adjourned so he could get further information about the allegations against the officers. 

Robert Rideout, a lawyer representing the second man, recently died, which has also delayed the start of the trial.

Defence lawyer Mathieu Boutet says two of the officers charged were expected to be witnesses during a trial earlier this week that was delayed in part because of the allegations against the officers. (Radio-Canada)

Boutet said the officers were involved in other cases he's handling, but declined to get into the details at this point. 

"Everybody's looking into it," Boutet said. 

Last week, the chair of a board that oversees the Codiac Regional RCMP called the charges "troubling."

"Everyone is innocent until proven guilty," Charles Léger said after the Codiac Regional Policing Authority Board meeting on Jan. 14.

"It's not something we like to hear, but there's a need to make sure that justice is upheld … Things like this are troubling, but they're being handled in the best and most appropriate way."