RCMP commercial crimes section criticized by judge

Ashley Fitzpatrick
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Two of the biggest cases handled by the RCMP's commercial crime section in Newfoundland and Labrador, involving more than a decade of taxpayer-funded investigative work, have seen only a judge-ordered stay of proceedings.

The latest order includes clear and unanswered criticisms of the initial RCMP investigation.

That order was issued Monday in the so-called Myles-Legér case. The case involves charges of fraud against Bill Clarke, co-founder of the now-defunct real estate developer, and employee Terry Reardon, based on accusations of the mishandling of mortgage funds.

Defence lawyers issued a charter challenge, questioning the pre-trial timeline. Judge Jane Fitzpatrick responded with a stay, highlighting a lack of timely police work.

"The overall police investigation was handled with massive inattention that amounts, in my view, to negligence," she wrote in the decision, issued Monday.

Police investigators, in pre-trial testimony, attributed their slow-moving investigation to existing caseloads, challenges in document curation and staff turnover extending from senior officer retirements, Fitzpatrick said.

Criminal charges were not laid until 8 1/2 years after the start of the investigation - what the judge referred to as a "staggeringly long period of time."

More evidence still had to be collected, including some witness interviews, contributing to another three years pre-trial.

Jury selection was scheduled for Feb. 2.

In her decision, the judge quotes Staff Sgt. David Hickey, who said fraud investigations, "unlike a murder, unlike an assault or a crime against a person," were usually not as time sensitive.

He also said the RCMP was short the resources required to handle the case.

Work on the case overlapped in time with an investigation into Hickman Equipment.

That case was tied to the largest bankruptcy in the province's history and allegations that as many as 300 pieces of heavy duty equipment were sold out of trust. A complaint related to Hickman Equipment's books was made to police in January 2002, but charges laid only in 2012.

A stay was ordered in February 2015, also following a charter challenge. The decision was appealed.

The Crown now has roughly 30 days to consider an appeal in the Myles-Legér case.

"I find that the police knew exactly who was suspected and where to locate them. Likewise, evidence was known to them to exist and was, in my view, readily accessible. The police simply did not go about retrieving the evidence or witness statements in a timely fashion," Fitzpatrick stated in this week's ruling.

"Furthermore, there was no compelling evidence that this situation was a resource-based issue in my view. The RCMP is a large organization. The testimony of the officers involved does establish that they had significant workloads. That being said, there is no evidence that additional resources were unavailable or why such resources could not have been made available."

The RCMP has so far refused response.

"The RCMP is not in a position to comment further on this matter at this time as there is still an ongoing court process," stated an emailed responding to questions from The Telegram Tuesday.

The Telegram also received no response to questions on the cost to renovate RCMP headquarters in St. John's to hold files in the Hickman case, the number of officers now working commercial crimes and whether or not there are any other commercial crime cases outstanding involving five years or more of police investigation.


Organizations: RCMP

Geographic location: St. John's

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • Dermis Probe
    January 28, 2016 - 13:16

    Take white-collar crime (WCC) out of the criminal code altogether and privatize WCC investigation "bounty-hunter style or collection-agency style" - i.e. a commission on the amount owed plus penalties realized from convictions. Build an Act under the Province's constitutional authority to create legislation respecting property and civil rights. Let cheaters cheat away: They'll never go to jail for it, but if they're convicted, they'll never own as much as a matchstick in the Province until judgments and penalties are satisfied. Why let the power of stolen money waste public money? The way it is now, even if there is a criminal conviction, oh boy, the taxpayer still has to pay. Want to see the best investigation money can buy that won't cost the taxpayer a dime? Who doesn't?

    • Prince Caspian
      January 28, 2016 - 14:33

      Interesting points. However, I cannot agree for the following reasons. We are bombarded with stories of petty crimes committed by largely disadvantaged people, fatherless sons, abused young women, the mentally ill and all of the other beautiful losers of our society, to borrow from Leonard Cohen. I really believe most of these people want to get caught and I also think that the effects of their crimes are usually limited, and I mean to take nothing away from anyone's pain. Generally, as well, these cases are easy to solve for the police. However, I would argue these massive white collar crimes are much more dangerous for our society as a commonwealth, negatively affecting numerous people, whole communities, employers, financial institutions, professions, people's retirement plans and their trust in all institutions. As well, people who commit white collar crimes most definitely do not want to be caught and, indeed, do not expect to be. This is because they have, and believe they have, advantages of social and professional status, family background, education, wealth and political connection. In other words they feel entitled to commit the crimes and believe themselves to possess impunity from detection, investigation and prosecution. It is because their exposure would shame powerful and admired people and institutions, i.e. the social order, that many of their crimes are not disclosed/exposed and they know it. We live in fear due to incessant media reporting of petty crimes. What we need to fear is the higher echelon of criminals who are stealing millions from the collected wealth of society. And so, while we are paying our police $100K + salaries to walk around parking lots checking whether car doors are locked, or doing traffic stops of disreputable looking vehicles driven by tattooed young men, supposedly protecting us all, we really need them to deal with the true predators out there, the smiling knives in our body politic.

  • Jean
    January 28, 2016 - 06:30

    The judges in this case and the Hickman case spoke the truth and the govt might as well accept it and move on. The best thing to do is learn the lesson and make the changes. Anything else is going to cost millions more for the taxpayer and I don't imagine anyone here wants to pay more in taxes to fund it. Face it the resources are better spent making our streets and school yards safer.

  • Duffy
    January 27, 2016 - 12:25

    The answer is simple. We need to have our own Police Force (RNC) expanded to take over the entire Island. The RCMP are sent here, many not pleased at the isolation and away from the excitement when young and are only here for a coupe years then gone. They have no personal commitment. They are not responsive to routine calls (just ask anyone) , not friendly and have no "roots" to our island. The cost is about the same as we pay for the RCMP but have NO say in their duties or work ethics.

    • Prince Caspian
      January 27, 2016 - 13:10

      No way is expanding the RNC a solution to this. I would say they are not worth the $140 million a year they cost us, and perhaps we should consider instead bringing them to an end and having the RCMP police the entire province. As well, this decision raises the issue of why large historical white-collar frauds are not treated the same way as murders. A murder investigation is never over until resolved by the Courts.

    • joe
      January 27, 2016 - 15:55

      Actually police from away with no attachments to the province is a good thing as it helps insure impartiality. Newfoundland is a very small place and it's easy to find connections among business partners, families, and friends everywhere you look.

  • guy incognito
    January 27, 2016 - 10:12

    Can we get some police officers from the mainland down here to school our police? How many cases have the police mismanaged lately?(both RNC and RCMP) How much money and time was wasted? I have zero confidence in our "justice" system

    • DCinCBS
      January 27, 2016 - 10:33

      Hey Guy, Many of the RCMP officers in this province are from the mainland!

    • lynnAnn Noseworthy
      January 27, 2016 - 12:12

      Jane Fitzpatrick is an amazingly efficient judge, and was an even better lawyer. Her decision was correct and not the least bit 'out of line'. Kudos to Jane!