Const. Patrick Lee, one of two Toronto police officers charged earlier this week with running a large-scale criminal enterprise, is under investigation again, this time for owning a bar, police said yesterday.
Property records show that Lee owns Turbo Lounge, a licensed establishment at 5310 Yonge St., just north of Sheppard Ave.
"We're looking into that bar," said Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash. "Our view generally is that owning a licensed premises would constitute a conflict of interest."
Lee, 31, and Const. Kevin Bourne, 33, are two of 20 people facing 115 combined charges for allegedly producing and distributing marijuana and laundering the proceeds.
Both officers were freed on bail yesterday along with a majority of the others, which include three correctional officers, a contractor and a real estate agent.
The accused were arrested Thursday in a massive sweep that turned up dozens of marijuana grow-ops and netted three houses, five vehicles, $60,000 in cash and drugs, such as marijuana and steroids.
Bail hearings will continue in a Newmarket courtroom Monday.
By owning a bar, Lee, an eight-year veteran of the force, could be found in contravention of the Police Services Act, which states that an officer can't "engage in any action" that puts them in conflict of interest with their duties.
Just hours after Lee and Bourne were released from custody yesterday, sneaking out the back door of the Newmarket courthouse, staff at Turbo Lounge were preparing to open for the evening.
Lee has been on stress leave for much of the last year and working at the north collision reporting centre on Toryork Dr. He has also been running the bar, a source close to the case said.
"I guess now he'll be spending all his time there," the source said.
Both constables, suspended from the Toronto police with pay, were released on $50,000 bail. Some others, including Bourne's wife Wendy Bourne, who is also facing charges, were released on $20,000 bail.
Outside the Newmarket courthouse yesterday, police lawyer Gary Clewley said his clients were treated fairly.
"They're happy to be out, relieved," he said. "And we'll get on with the business of defending them. Let's not jump to any conclusions about their guilt or innocence."
Lee, wearing a white tank top, sandals and shorts, and Bourne bowed their heads in the prisoner's box yesterday.
Lee's mother wept as Justice of the Peace Rhonda Shousterman explained his bail conditions and that breaking them could mean losing the family home.
"Would you like a tissue?" Shousterman asked. "You're really putting yourself on the line for your son."
Bourne's father Lennard, a schoolteacher with an income of around $84,000 a year, faced Shousterman without looking at his son.
Each person released yesterday must abide by many of the same conditions, including reporting to York Region police once a week, surrendering passports and giving up any cell phones.
Most of those charged were not permitted to speak to their co-accused except for Lee and Bourne, whose spouses also face charges.
Bourne was ordered to stay at 27 Vania Dr., one of the properties searched in Thursday's raids. It contained a grow-op in the basement, police said.
The house, which was empty yesterday, had orders tacked on the door in red tape "to remedy unsafe conditions inside," including holes in the foundation and compromised electrical wiring.
Property records indicate the house, a two-storey on a quiet street, was previously owned by Adam Valenti, one of the 20 accused. A source close to the case said that many of those facing charges lived in the houses they bought and sold as part of the enterprise.
Bourne's neighbours were shocked yesterday afternoon and left wondering whether their higher-than normal electrical bills had something to do with the grow-op next door. Jackie Rahana, 29, said her bills have increased threefold in the last year, jumping from the usual $200 a month to more than $1,050 last month.
Source The Toronto Star
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre
Across Ontario, we have a multitude of police forces where its politically
incorrect to even suggest that one of their finest is less than law abiding. I
know of one City Police Force in Northern Ontario were the name of an undercover
police officer (be it attached to the RCMP) remained on the roster white board
for months after he was arrested on child sex charges and flown North West. The
same city police were famous for operating dam near every instant lottery sale
point in the City. Their wives included powerful local officials including
judges secretaries, engaged in issuing criminal charges against anyone who
crossed their path. One of their officers ran a local drug ring under the guise
of local business. Absolute power corrupts, the persons most likely to abuse
absolute power are generally those with the most of power and who have the least
checks into their personality and psychology. In Ontario, strangely enough,
judges undergo no personality or psychological testing. We regularly hear of
police officers engaged in crime. Judges don't need to steal directly, they do
it by abusing their judicial discretion to make political decisions for their
political interests rather than legal decisions. Canada has simply too many
police forces. The advantages and savings to Canada by limiting the number of
police forces will go a long way into allowing police management to have the
widespread resources necessary to deal with their own engaged in less the finest
of activities. Most police forces seem to have a large number of officers who
run businesses that have some conflict and consume a large amount of time.
Local citizens know which officer runs what business and doing business with those in power has its obvious unwritten advantages. Police officers need very strict guidelines in what part time income they can engage in and perhaps its time to consider a total ban on outside business interests by police officers. Where there is a will there is a way. In some police forces, the business of the officer is not the officer's but that of his or partner or family. Just where does it end and where do you start. In Ontario it can start with beefing up the legislation to deal with complaints against police which at present is a very sick joke. Like the Canadian Judicial Counsel, the Ontario Police complaints process appears set up to sanitize any compliant. www.OttawaMensCentre.com
As edited and posted by the Toronto Star