CBC In Depth
Timeline: 1999
CBC News Online | Aug. 16, 2004

April 1999: Drug squad allegations surface

A letter sent to police Internal Affairs raises allegations of wrongdoing by Toronto's Central Field Command's drug squad. The letter is written by several defence lawyers, including Clayton Ruby and Edward Sapiano. It claims that police from Central Field Command drug squad stole drugs, money and jewelry from the lawyers' clients during raids. Police Internal Affairs begins an investigation.

August 1999: Lawsuit against drug squad officers

Three people file suit against at least 10 officers in the Central Field Command drug squad alleging false arrest, assault and battery. The case is settled in September 2003 when police agree to pay Phan Ni Pham and her two sons $50,000. Police also issue a formal apology to the family.

By January 2003 at least 10 people have launched civil suits, claiming millions in damages and all naming the same group of drug squad officers. The suits allege that drug squad officers used search warrants to rob the homes and safety deposit boxes of suspected drug dealers.

Staff. Sgt. John Schertzer
Among the officers named are Staff Sergeant John Schertzer, and constables Ned Maodus, Mike Abbott, Steven Correia and Mark Denton. Several suits are settled out of court with their terms undisclosed. The officers maintain their innocence. The accusations have never been proven in court.

October 1999: Drug cases stayed

The federal government begins to stay drug cases that have involved some drug squad officers. No reasons are given. At least 80 people involved in 50 cases walk free between December 1999 and August 2001. Eventually at least 200 cases are stayed ranging from minor prosecutions to a $50-million heroin seizure because of questions about the officers.

In affidavits unsealed in 2004, the task force investigating the complaints concludes that 83 per cent of the drug charges laid by the unit headed by Staff Sergeant John Schertzer were later either stayed or withdrawn. In the affidavits, Chief Supt. John Neily estimates that 2,100 prosecutions and 600 search warrants would have to be reinvestigated.

November 1999: Financial irregularities discovered in drug squad

A routine audit in the drug squad's finances turns up irregularities in the so-called "fink fund," used to pay informants. Later, eight drug squad members and five members of the elite ROPE unit are charged. Eventually two ROPE officers are acquitted and charges are dropped against the other three. Charges against the eight drug squad officers are stayed in Feb. 2002 because of concerns that the prosecutions could jeopardize another criminal investigation. By then, an RCMP-led investigation into allegations of misconduct is underway.

November 1999: Drug Squad officer charged

Central Field Command officer Mark Denton is charged with possession of hashish for the purpose of trafficking. In 2002 a judge rules Denton's rights were violated during a search of his vehicle. Charges are dismissed.

December 1999: Boothby confirms investigation

Police Chief David Boothby confirms publicly that an internal investigation is underway into allegations that police had planted evidence and stolen jewelry and thousands of dollars during several major drug investigations over the previous few years. By this point federal prosecutors have stayed at least eight drug trials until the investigation is over. It is revealed that some members of the drug squad have been removed from the unit.

NEXT: TIMELINE: 2000: Toronto gets new chief of police... RCMP launch organized crime probe... eight drug squad officers face 75 criminal charges and 98 Police Services Act charges.


TIMELINE: 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 Timeline 2007-08 RAP SHEET

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