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Judge finds police may have stolen thousands in cash from Toronto man during drug seizure

WorldAmericas and CanadaJudge finds police may have stolen thousands in cash from Toronto man during drug seizure
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The court case for a man accused of drug trafficking has been found “justified” by an Ontario judge after finding that Toronto police seized nearly $6,000 in cash while executing a warrant at the man’s apartment.

toronto police officer They claimed they found a total of $19,390, according to court documents reviewed by CTV News Toronto, which searched and seized a quantity of cocaine and money from the accused’s apartment on Weston Road.

A split photo of defense attorney Kim Scofield’s recreation of money seized from a drug bust compared to a Toronto police photo (supplied) of cash.But the accused in the case, Andrew Rocha, 36, alleged in court that the amount taken from his apartment was actually more than $6,000.

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One Ontario Superior Court The judge on Wednesday granted a stay of proceedings, which permanently halts the prosecution of an accused, because Rocha’s charter rights were violated, a pretrial ruling states.

The defense attorney said, “The judge in this case found that the police stole $6,000 from my client.” Kim Schofield told CTV News Toronto on Thursday.

‘Number of irregularities’

On February 6, 2019, Toronto police officers executed a search warrant at Rocha’s apartment, the court found.

Within the proceedings, officers said they seized half a kilogram of cocaine found in paint cans and a coffee container, along with $19,390 held together by colored elastic bands stored in shoe boxes and a closet.

However, evidence presented in court showed that the actual amount seized was thousands of dollars more.

As per protocol, officers took photographs of the items and cash seized from Rocha’s apartment in February. One of those photos showed a large stack of cash on a table in the apartment — presumably, the $19,390 police said they took from the residence. But, when compared with another photograph of the cash seizure taken at the police station, the piles were of different sizes.

“It’s really a matter of comparing photographs,” Scofield said.

“When you compare two piles of money, it appears […] It looks very different from what was seized by police in my client’s unit.”

drug bust 1 6307201 1678408760037Within the court proceedings, the prosecution claimed that the officer responsible for handling the confiscated money did not steal any cash and blamed the missing $6,000 on clerical errors.

however, judge andras schreck stated that the officer was not a “reliable witness” for a number of reasons, including but not limited to a “transfer explanation” for why any money went missing in the first place.

“There were numerous irregularities in the processing of the cash,” Schreck wrote in the pre-trial ruling. “Some of these irregularities were explained by the officer processing the report. Some were not.

At the same time, the judge found the defendants’ ability to show how they bundled the cash, which was lined with police notes detailing the denominations seized, as credible.

drug bust 1 6308002 1678468251560A photo of money placed in a shoe box taken by Toronto police in a drug bust (supplied). “Based on the foregoing, I am satisfied on a balance of probabilities that approximately $6,000 in seized cash is missing,” the judge wrote.

Schreck underlined that the missing money does not necessarily mean that the cash was stolen by the police officer. “However, considering its underlying value, it is a reasonable estimate,” he said.

‘Action’ will be taken if needed: Police

When contacted for comment following Schreck’s decision, a spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service said it would “review the decision and any new evidence presented to the court, and take appropriate action if necessary.” Will do.”

Schofield expressed skepticism in response to the service’s commitment to act if needed.

Before pre-trial proceedings could begin, the defense took the additional step of asking the Toronto Police to conduct an internal investigation into the alleged theft. professional standards unit complied with the request and investigated, but found the allegations to be baseless.

“I think it’s no surprise to anybody that police investigating crimes is not a very viable or reliable system,” Scofield said.

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