Canadian Underwriter

Toronto officer now allegedly linked to illegal tow truck scheme

June 24, 2020   by Paola Loriggio - THE CANADIAN PRESS

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TORONTO – A Toronto police officer arrested last week in the theft of a police radio has now allegedly been linked to an illegal operation benefiting the tow truck industry.

Toronto police said Monday that 11 people, including 47-year-old Const. Ronald Joseph, are facing more than 50 charges in an investigation involving corruption and organized crime.

The other accused, all Ontario residents between the ages of 21 and 50, are employees from multiple tow truck companies.

Police Supt. Domenic Sinopoli said it was “concerning” that police radios were being used illegitimately, and that an officer was allegedly in cahoots with an industry “rife with corruption.”

“What this means is that there are certain individuals that are taking advantage of the system and the opportunities available to them to facilitate their business interests,” he said.

Investigators said a police radio was stolen and cloned, and the copy was returned to the force.

They said the radio was used to intercept encrypted police transmissions to learn about collisions faster, and the information was shared with tow truck drivers for a monthly fee.

The stolen radio was discovered in early May when one of the accused, a man from Barrie, was arrested on Highway 400 and charged with dangerous driving, Sinopoli said.

The group allegedly also obtained two other police radios, and police said they believe all three devices were stolen between February 2018 and last December.

Joseph was allegedly receiving kickbacks to pass along information on collision locations, Sinopoli said.

The constable also had a car rental agency that received referrals from the towing industry, and owned two tow trucks that were operated by members of the group, the superintendent said.

Joseph was initially arrested on June 15, and charged with one count each of breach of trust and theft over $5,000 in connection with the stolen radio.

He was arrested again three days later after police searched five homes and seven commercial locations in the Toronto area and in southern and northern Ontario.

Police seized six tow trucks as part of those searches, they said. Joseph now faces a dozen additional charges, including three counts of breach of trust, two of secret commissions, and one of possessing a device to intercept private communications.

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