Craig Ruthowsky was pretending to be a dirty cop in order to catch more criminals, a jury heard today in the trial of the Hamilton police officer. 44-year-old Ruthowsky faces charges that include bribery, trafficking cocaine and obstruction of justice.
In July 2011 Ruthowsky entered into what the crown calls a pay for protection scheme with a drug dealer who had just been busted with nine ounces of cocaine. In October of that year, Ruthowsky allegedly told the drug dealer he needed something to offer his police colleagues to validate the relationship. The drug dealer agreed to give up the location of a grow-op on Green Mountain road, if Ruthowsky promised not to arrest his friends and hand over half the crop. Court heard Ruthowsky told the dealer the crop wasn’t viable and he invited the dealer to the scene of the bust to see for himself.
James Paterson was Ruthowsky’s best friend and boss on the gangs and weapons team at the time. He says he was shocked Ruthowsky brought his informant to the bust; he was told the dealer hadn’t seen the site and Ruthowsky wanted to accommodate the request. However in a search warrant shown in court today, Ruthowsky tells a justice of the peace that his informant was on the site three days before.
More egregious, Paterson found, was when Ruthowsky was brought up on police act charges, in part because he took a cocaine cutting agent to a private lab to be tested. Ruthowsky told him he wanted the dealer to think he was a dirty cop because he was narrowing in on a major drug supplier, who was the informant’s uncle.
Paterson spent a lot of time at Ruthowsky’s house. They had been roommates before marriage and they worked together on weekends doing construction work. Paterson said during that time, Ruthowsky spent 10’s of thousands of dollars improving his back yard with a pool, deck and fireplace, buying a truck, and two investment properties.
Court heard Ruthowksy’s wife, Christine was also a Hamilton police officer making a six-figure income at the time.
“My friendship with Craig is dissolved,” Paterson testified. He said he had no reason to protect his former friend, although he testified that officers as productive as Craig Ruthowsky were often given leeway on the official rules. He said Ruthowsky helped solve two murders and take several guns off the street while suspended, because he was still talking to informants.
Next on the stand, tomorrow, will be an officer who watched as kilos of cocaine changed hands in the parking lot at Sherway Gardens. Police just watched, then anonymously seized the drugs, because they were still in the midst of the bigger project pharaoh. It was that drug bust that led Ruthowsky’s informant to call for help, a conversation overheard by police with wire tap warrants.