Former Toronto drug squad officers guilty of obstruction
Jury delivers verdict in largest police corruption case in Canadian history
Five former Toronto police drug squad officers have been found guilty of attempting to obstruct justice after a months-long trial and eight full days of deliberation by a jury.
John Schertzer, Ned Maodus, Raymond Pollard, Steven Correia and Joseph Miched had been variously charged with obstructing justice, perjury, assault and extortion in relation to a series of incidents in which it was alleged they beat up and robbed drug dealers and then lied to cover it up.
In the end, all five men were found guilty in Ontario Superior Court late Wednesday afternoon of falsifying notes in relation to the search of an Eglinton Avenue East apartment in February 1998 that was carried out without a warrant.
Pollard, Maodus and Correia were also found guilty of perjury for lying during a preliminary inquiry related to the raid.
However, the jury found all five men not guilty of robbing and assaulting an alleged drug dealer named Christopher Quigley. Quigley claimed he was savagely beaten by drug squad officers while in custody at 53 Division near Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue in 1998.
More than $14 million was spent on investigations and prosecution in what is the largest case of alleged police corruption in Canadian history. The trial began in January.
Six officers were originally charged in January 2004 after a Toronto Police Special Task Force led by a single RCMP chief superintendent spent three years investigating.
In 2008, a trial judge stayed all charges, ruling that delays by the prosecution infringed on the officers’ rights.
But in 2009, Ontario’s Court of Appeal rejected that and ruled a trial should proceed for five of the six officers, noting the complexity of the case. Charges against Richard Benoit, though, were dismissed.
All but one of the five men have retired from the force, many of them spending many years "suspended with pay" while collecting full benefits.
In November 2007, former detective sergeant John Schertzer — leader of the group of accused officers who were all members of Team 3 of the TPS Central Field Command drug squad — retired with full pension as he turned 50, with 32 years of service to the force.
Steve Correia is still on the force, but had been suspended while collecting full pay since he was charged criminally in January 2004.
The outcome of the trial did not satisfy former Toronto police Sgt. James Jim Cassells, who served on the Special Task Force investigating the drug squad and who turned whistleblower.
"I am afraid that the conclusion of this case does nothing to solve the real problems uncovered during the investigation of this case. As painful as they may be, there are still many issues that were uncovered during the course of the investigation that have been left unresolved," said Cassells in an email to CBC News.
The five men are scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 5.