Wed, June 23, 2004

Lawyer blasts Kelly deal

THE LAWYER who prompted a massive RCMP-led task force probe into Toronto drug squad corruption says a deal to keep disgraced cop Robert Kelly on the job is "appalling." "When is it all going to end, for crying out loud," Edward Sapiano asked yesterday.

"This sends a clear message to all police officers that the law doesn't apply to them."

The RCMP-led special task force arrested Kelly in November 2001 after an informant complained Kelly had threatened his life over an unpaid $25,000 gambling debt.

Kelly, 39, was given a suspended sentence by Justice Ian Cowan March 4 after pleading guilty to two criminal charges of possession of cocaine.

Last week, Kelly pleaded guilty to two Police Services Act charges and acknowledged that he gave the informant 3.15 grams of cocaine.

Prosecutors and Kelly's lawyers have agreed on a "last chance" deal that allows Kelly to keep his badge as long as he surrenders his gun, submits to random drug and psychiatric tests and accepts a demotion that would result in a significant pay cut.

Prosecutor Staff Insp. George Cowley said the deal was a "balance" reached after "a lot of thought and a lot of work."

Kelly's early guilty plea to the criminal charges and his "substantial rehabilitation" efforts -- 300 to 400 hours of counselling -- supported a deal, Cowley said


A medical assessment of Kelly found him free of drugs, "fit to return to work" and "well on his way to recovery," he said.

A police tribunal will decide Kelly's fate July 7.

Sapiano said he fears the Kelly deal is a harbinger of what is to come for 10 former Central Field Command drug cops named in a criminal conspiracy case that was also probed by the RCMP-led task force.

Sapiano suggested Toronto Police made the deal with Kelly because they are "terrified of what he might say."

Court heard during Kelly's case that the informant fingered four other cops who had snorted cocaine with him.

Sapiano said if police brass are terrified of Kelly, they are likely "more terrified" of what the other drug cops might say.

Sapiano's demands come the day after it was revealed that drug squad corruption task force head RCMP Deputy Supt. John Neily told Toronto Police internal affairs Staff Supt. David Dicks in a memo that the Kelly deal is "of questionable moral quality."

It was also revealed that several Toronto internal affairs detectives, who probed the Kelly case and the major drug squad case, feel betrayed by the deal.

Sapiano said a public inquiry is the only solution.