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CN ON: Officers Facing 270 Charges

Media Awareness ProjectCN ON: Officers Facing 270 Charges

06 May 2000 Toronto Star

Authors: John Duncanson and Jim Rankin, Staff Reporters

OFFICERS FACING 270 CHARGESCase Involves Skimming Cash From ‘Fink Fund’

Five veteran Toronto police officers now face more than 270 criminal charges stemming from a corruption scandal involving the theft of informant reward money, documents show.

The formal charges filed yesterday by internal affairs investigators gives a dollar figure on the money the officers are alleged to have stolen from the force.

It’s about $5,000, and involves over a dozen alleged transactions over the past six years, with seven numbered informants. Each alleged theft of money carries with it multiple charges, including breach of trust, fraud, and forgery.

The 45-page document detailing the allegations against the officers was presented – but not read out – when the five made their first appearance at College Park court in the afternoon.

The case was put over until June 8 and the accused officers were told they are not allowed to discuss their legal problems among themselves. They cannot have any contact with the police informants connected to the charges. The informants are referred to by numbers, not names, in the charges.

The internal affairs case involves the skimming of money from the force’s so-called “fink fund,” which is used to reward informants when they provide information, such as the identity of drug dealers or the whereabouts of escaped convicts.

In all, the officers face 19 counts of breach of trust, 19 counts of fraud under $5,000, 23 counts of theft under $5,000, 66 counts of forgery, and 66 counts of uttering forged documents. Each count can involve charges against more than one officer.

The brunt of the charges are against Detective Constable Gary Corbett, 41, and Detective Rod Lawrence, 43, members of a squad that tracks down escapees and parole violators.

The other three officers who appeared in court work out of police stations in North York. They are Constable Gordon Ramsay, 45, Constable Wayne Frye, 52, and Constable Rick Franklin.

Corbett, who faces more than 180 charges, worked with all of the officers. All five are suspended with pay.

Several officers and police union officials were on hand at yesterday’s court appearance to show their support. The five officers left through a back door to avoid the media after the hearing.

Outside the courthouse, lawyer Gary Clewley – one of three lawyers representing the officers – said there was no reason the officers shouldn’t be allowed to talk to each other as the court proceedings unfold.

“There is no conspiracy charge here,” said Clewley, adding the officers have been friends for years and often attend social functions together.

Clewley said he couldn’t comment on the case because he has yet to see any real disclosure from the crown detailing the allegations.

The five detectives turned themselves in to internal affairs investigators last month where they were formally processed and released pending yesterday’s court date.

At the time, the force released information showing the officers faced 136 charges. It’s unclear whether the 57 extra charges filed yesterday involve new allegations.

It was a routine internal audit of the force’s Repeat Offender Program Enforcement (ROPE) unit last fall that first revealed inconsistencies in the use of money for informants. That prompted Internal Affairs detectives to launch a criminal investigation, which is ongoing.

Corbett and Lawrence also have been charged internally with nearly 50 counts under the Police Services Act stemming from the investigation. More internal charges are expected.

The internal charges against Corbett and Lawrence are much more detailed than the criminal charges and provide a glimpse into how the alleged scheme worked. The allegations include:

Falsifying reports to make it appear as though information was obtained from informants when there had been no contact with the informants at all.

Filing follow-up paperwork that suggested informants expected payment of as much as $500 for information when no money, or in one case just a portion of the requested amount, was paid out.

Filing false reports about informants.

Forging receipts to make it appear informants were paid.

MAP posted-by: Richard Lake