Five Hamilton ACTION squad officers charged

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Five Hamilton police officers are facing criminal charges after a 9-month investigation into fake tickets issued by the Hamilton Police ACTION unit.

The investigation began last September when an officer found provincial offence tickets in a shredder box.  That sparked an internal investigation that revealed that all 32 tickets issued to 18 people were fake and had not been handed out.

Constables Bhupesh Gulati, Shawn Smith, Steve Travale, Staci Tyldesley and Dan Williams have been suspended with pay and charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, namely the intent to mislead by fabricating provincial offence notices.  Other charges include multiple counts of fabrication of evidence and breach of trust.

Gulati was named Hamilton Police member of the month in April 2012.  Shawn Smith was previously charged and pleaded guilty in 2010 to two counts of insubordination under the Police Services Act after looking up information about a former partner’s new boyfriend.

Two other officers have been suspended but not criminally charged.  Ontario law currently requires all suspended officers to continue receiving pay.

All seven officers could face Police Services Act disciplinary charges.

The high-profile ACTION (Addressing Crime Trends in our Neighbourhoods) unit is commonly seen in the downtown core on bicycles.

After police refused for most of Tuesday to confirm to CHCH News that arrests had been, Chief Glenn De Caire announced the charges at a hastily arranged 8:15 pm news conference.

De Caire says the police service took the investigation very seriously and he’s confident detectives have looked at all of the evidence, adding that maintaining public trust is very important.

“What the public does need to know that we are absolutely committed in any circumstance not specific to what we addressed today but any circumstance where there is any allegation of misconduct. We will investigate, we will thoroughly investigate. We will be guided by that evidence and we are not afraid to following that evidence wherever it takes us because that builds public trust and that the police service is being held accountable.”

Hamilton Police Services Board chair Lloyd Ferguson told the Hamilton Spectator that he was officially informed of the arrests early in the day.

The officers have been suspended with pay and will now be tried in criminal court.  They’ll make their first court appearances on July 13th.

The arrests come less than two weeks after a suspended Hamilton police officer was arrested and charged in raids led by Toronto Police targeting gang activity.

Constable Craig Ruthowsky is facing charges that include of breach of trust, conspiracy to traffic cocaine, and participating in a criminal organization.  He remains in custody after being denied bail.

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