Toronto Police Corruption Trial
January 17, 2012 by staff
Toronto Police Corruption Trial, A group of former Toronto police drug squad officers allegedly attempted to obstruct the course of justice in a wide-ranging conspiracy that involved assaulting and robbing drug dealers, a Superior Court jury heard Monday.
More than a decade after their alleged offences, John Schertzer, Steven Correia, Nebojsa Maodus, Joseph Miched and Raymond Pollard began a trial that will examine a litany of accusations against the officers, most of whom have since retired from the force.
All five are accused of conspiring to attempt to obstruct justice by falsifying police records and giving false testimony, while several stand further charged with theft, extortion and assault.
“The defendants tried to cover their tracks and tried to protect each other from the reach of the law,” Crown attorney John Pearson said in his opening address, calling the conspiracy charge “a bright thread that runs throughout this entire case.”
The Crown alleges the defendants used unjustified physical violence against prisoners, threatened violence to extract information, conducted illegal searches and stole cash and property that belonged to people they were investigating. To cover their tracks, the officers allegedly falsified police records and lied under oath in cases where they had laid criminal charges.
The alleged offences took place in the context of five cases dating back to the late 1990s, when the five officers were members of Team Three of the Toronto police central field command drug squad, led by Schertzer.
The Crown advised the jury that some of the witnesses may appear “disreputable and unsavoury” due to their criminal histories, but advised jurors to judge the case on the basis of police conduct alone. During the trial, expected to last about six months, the Crown plans to call about 40 witnesses and introduce a host of other evidence, including hospital, insurance, business and police records.
“The case before you is not about whether the people I mentioned were guilty or not guilty of drug charges, and it is not about whether they are good or bad people, or whether you like them or do not like them,” Pearson told jurors. “The point of this trial . . . is whether the defendants engaged in the criminal conduct which I have described.”
The first case to be dealt with is that of Christopher Quigley, who alleges he was beaten and robbed in what the Crown described as a “violent shakedown” by members of the drug squad in 1998.
Quigley, who began testifying Monday, alleges his mistreatment began after police arrested him for being in possession of stolen sunglasses. Though he had no drugs or weapons on him at the time, Quigley says he was brought into the station and violently interrogated by police, who demanded to know “where the drugs are.”
“I was attacked by the officers while I was in custody . . . . I was beaten repeatedly on a number of occasions,” Quigley said, adding he was prevented from calling a lawyer.
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