Toronto police fire officer after 11-year suspension, but appeal keeps him on payroll

After 11 years on paid suspension, Toronto police Const. Ioan-Florin Floria has been fired, but the officer will likely remain on the force’s payroll thanks to a speedy appeal.

Const. Ioan-Florin Floria has been found guilty of 4 counts of professional misconduct

Toronto police Const. Ioan-Florin Floria was fired on Monday, after 11 years on paid suspension, but his lawyer says he will appeal. (Ioan-Florin Floria/Facebook)

After 11 years on paid suspension, Toronto police Const. Ioan-Florin Floria was fired on Monday, but the officer will remain on the force's payroll and his penalty will be blocked thanks to a speedy appeal.

Now retired Toronto police superintendent Debra Preston, who oversaw Floria's disciplinary hearing, delivered her decision at the service's headquarters on Monday morning. Preston argued dismissal was the only option for an officer who committed serious misconduct.

"I cannot, in good conscience, suggest a correctional or educational approach to correct what I deem to be a significant character flaw," Preston said. 

Preston found Floria guilty last year of four counts of professional misconduct: two counts of discreditable conduct, and one count each of insubordination and breach of confidence.

Floria said in a phone call that an appeal had been delivered to the Ontario Civilian Police Commission. The police service confirmed the appeal would keep Floria on the police payroll.

"I'll fight for my job," Floria said. "It's not fair. That's all I can say to you."

'Covert investigation'

The tribunal heard testimony in 2016 from a man whose identity is protected by a publication ban. The man's initials are S.T. He appeared via video-link and spoke through an interpreter. 

S.T. told the tribunal that he spoke to Floria, whom he knew socially, in late 2005 after he was kidnapped, tortured, and released for a ransom.

The police tribunal ruled that Floria told S.T. not to report the kidnapping, and said he would investigate.

"There was ample evidence elicited that Const. Floria conducted an unauthorized, covert investigation," Preston said Monday. 

The kidnapping has never been solved.

Disappeared in 2016

Defence lawyer Leo Kinahan suggested in 2016 that it was a ruse so S.T. could steal money and marijuana from his boss in the drug trade, Mihai Vornicu.

Vornicu disappeared, along with his wife and a friend, in British Columbia in 2016.

Floria was arrested in 2007 in connection with the same set of circumstances that brought him before the tribunal. He was acquitted of all criminal charges in 2012.  

The Crown suggested at Floria's trial that the officer's off-the-books investigation was a scam aimed at protecting two friends in the drug trade, who he believed might have been involved.

Preston said in a decision last year that she believes the kidnapping happened.

Only explanation

The tribunal also found that Floria had made repeated unauthorized database queries over several years. Floria also released confidential information gathered during his supposed investigation to S.T.'s brother, the tribunal ruled.

The tribunal focused on questions of workplace procedure and conduct, not alleged criminal behaviour. But Preston said Monday that the only explanation for Floria's database queries on his associates and himself was that he was confirming whether they had criminal records or were under police surveillance.

The tribunal also found that Floria learned of a second kidnapping on Dec. 23, 2005. After an investigating detective briefed Floria on the abduction and asked for his help the following day, the officer reported that he'd already heard of the kidnapping, the tribunal heard.  

"This delay … increased the likelihood of the victims' continued torture and sexual assault of one party," Preston said Monday.

The police service leaned heavily on S.T.'s testimony in building their case against Floria. S.T. and his brother have both admitted their involvement in the drug trade, and S.T. acknowledged at the tribunal that he'd lied to police investigating Floria.

Lower standard of proof

Kinahan said he was not surprised by the penalty, but believes Preston acted on inaccurate information.

"Twelve people found him not guilty of the exact same set of allegations," said Kinahan, who acknowledged that the tribunal operates under a lower standard of proof than a criminal court.

Insp. Peter Callaghan, a prosecutor during the disciplinary proceedings, said the service worked to move the disciplinary process along quickly, but acknowledged Floria's lengthy suspension.

"I can't think of one that's longer than this," Callaghan said.

With files from Stephen Davis