Former Mountie convicted of stealing, trafficking cocaine
'Craig Robert Burnett broke the very laws he was sworn to uphold,' judge says in written decision
A former senior Nova Scotia Mountie has been found guilty on all seven counts relating to a plan to steal 10 kilograms of cocaine from a police evidence locker and resell it.
A justice of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court delivered the guilty verdicts against former Staff Sgt. Craig Robert Burnett, 51, Friday morning. The charges cover a period from 2010 to 2016.
"Craig Robert Burnett broke the very laws he was sworn to uphold," wrote Justice James Chipman in his decision.
During his 21-day trial, the court heard Burnett removed cocaine that was slated to be destroyed from an evidence locker. The amount of drugs is equivalent in weight to an automobile tire.
He then provided the drugs to an associate who in turn delivered it to a third man for sale. The three men split the proceeds.
Burnett stole the cocaine from the evidence locker, which subsequently sold for about $300,000.
Chipman noted that Burnett was in terrible financial shape when he stole the drugs because he had just gone through a difficult divorce.
At the time the drugs were stolen, Burnett was in charge of the National Port Enforcement Team. His trial heard from 23 witnesses, including several other police officers and the two men who joined Burnett in the scheme.
Forensic accountant's findings
The Crown also called a forensic accountant who tracked Burnett's financial transactions during this period. She testified there was a period when there was very little activity on Burnett's bank accounts and she theorized that was because he was paying cash for everyday items like gas and groceries.
It was also during this period that he bought a $17,500 BMW motorcycle, although there was no record of the transaction in his banking information, which was seized by police as part of their investigation.
"On all of the evidence, I find that Sgt. Burnett knew of the RCMP exhibit housing system's inadequacies and exploited them to his advantage," Chipman wrote.
"Rather than acting according to the core values of the RCMP, he behaved dishonestly when he manipulated the system to covertly steal approximately 10 kilograms of cocaine."
In a statement following Burnett's conviction, RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said the integrity and honesty of people handling exhibits is a key component of securing those items.
"We have no evidence to suggest there are issues with the policies and measures in place," Clarke said.
Burnett is free on bail until his sentencing on July 4.