Katrina Clarke | Dec. 11, 2014 | Toronto Star
MILTON—An OPP officer alleged by the Crown to have fabricated evidence to receive kickbacks from towtruck companies has been found not guilty of breach of trust.
Superior Court Justice Dale Fitzpatrick, on Thursday found OPP Sgt. Dennis Mahoney-Bruer not guilty of three counts of breach of trust and three counts of attempting to obstruct justice.
The hearing at a Milton courthouse lasted just over five minutes. Fitzpatrick said he will provide written reasons next week, but made a point of directly addressing Mahoney-Bruer.
“I do want you to consider yourself extremely fortunate that the evidence generally allowed you the benefit of the court’s doubt,” Fitzpatrick told Mahoney-Bruer.
He told the officer not to interpret the verdict as an “endorsement” of his actions and gave him “a very clear warning,” that he might not receive the same benefit if he finds himself in court again.
“It will never happen, Your Honour,” said Mahoney-Bruer, wearing a dark suit and purple tie.
“Good luck, sergeant,” Fitzpatrick responded.
Sgt. Dennis Mahoney-Bruer was arrested in May 2009 after an investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police Professional Standards Bureau.
His charges stemmed from three incidents in May 2009. One involved a driver charged with speeding. The other two involved drivers charged with speeding 50 km/h over the limit, or “stunt” driving.
During Mahoney-Bruer’s September 2013 trial, the Crown alleged he fabricated evidence so as to give tickets to drivers and was motivated by the kickbacks he received from towtruck drivers.
In Ontario, driving 50 km/h over the limit results in an immediate seven-day vehicle impoundment and an immediate seven-day licence suspension, according to the Ministry of Transportation. Drivers convicted of the charges face fines up to $10,000 and a sentence of up to six months.
In court documents from 2009, Mahoney-Bruer was ordered not to speak with two men who run Mississauga towing companies. The men told the Star in 2009 they didn’t know why they were mentioned in the case.
Mahoney-Bruer was not charged with accepting kickbacks.
Outside the courtroom, he refused to answer questions about his future with the OPP and would not comment on the verdict.
“Obviously he’s very happy. He’s very relieved because this has been hanging over his head now for more than five years,” Harry Black, Mahoney-Bruer’s defence lawyer, told the Star. “I can tell you that these (police) prosecutions take a big toll and a heavy toll on people.”
Mahoney-Bruer, 54, is a 17-year veteran of the OPP and served with the Port Credit highway safety detachment. He is currently suspended with pay, said OPP spokesperson Sgt. Peter Leon.
Mahoney-Bruer was charged with discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act in 2009. In criminal matters, the OPP’s Professional Standards Bureau waits until the matter is concluded before proceeding, Leon said.
“What will happen is they will now look at everything again and very closely take into consideration what has been said in the criminal proceedings,” Leon said.
He said the OPP would not comment on the case until they receive Fitzpatrick’s written reasoning.
Crown attorney Molly Flanagan, who was in court to receive the verdict but did not prosecute the trial, declined to comment on the case.
The Crown attorney who prosecuted Mahoney-Bruer’s trial, Andrew Cappell, did not respond to a request for comment from the Star.
Leon said he could not comment on the status of the three cases involving drivers who were ticketed by Mahoney-Bruer. In 2009, a spokesperson told the Star the OPP were working with the Crown to withdraw the drivers’ charges.
With files from Alyshah Hasham and Kenyon Wallace