MANDEL: York cop wants convictions tossed, argues he was ‘entrapped’

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If crooked cop Richard Senior sold steroids to a colleague, offered to be a middleman to traffic cocaine, stole a police shotgun for a planned robbery and pocketed cash earmarked for an informant, he’s not to blame.

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The police are.

“None of the events that we are contesting would have happened without the instigation, involvement, encouragement, and manipulation of the police,” his lawyer John Struthers insisted in virtual court Friday. “He was being pushed and pulled at the same time.”

The 15-year York Regional Police traffic cop is arguing he was entrapped by an elaborate police sting designed to induce him to commit crimes he otherwise wouldn’t have committed and so Superior Court Justice Vanessa Christie must toss his convictions as an abuse of process.

It’s quite the stretch.

Christie convicted Senior in April on 11 of 14 corruptions charges, including stealing $300 earmarked for a police informant, trafficking in steroids, possessing a stolen police shotgun and offering to sell cocaine he anticipated stealing — with virtually all of his crimes caught on wiretaps.

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While the judge also found Senior intended to rob a warehouse filled with what he believed to be coke and cash, the judge acquitted him of attempted robbery because she was “not satisfied that his actions went beyond mere preparation.”

But there never was a drug-filled warehouse — it was a ruse developed during a police corruption investigation known as Project Tadeu that involved an undercover RCMP officer posing as drug importer “Henry Wong” and a York Region cop playing Senior’s new partner eager to get in on a drug heist.

If it was bait, Senior eagerly took it.

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According to Crowns Peter Scrutton and Mabel Lai, Senior had been under investigation since February 2018 after a confidential informant alleged he was corrupt. His bosses believed he was running licence plates and tapping into their databases for friends and family, and they worried he had a potential connection to organized crime.

After brainstorming strategies to find out if Senior was crossing the line, they decided by early June 2018 to use an undercover officer posing as a drug trafficker in Asian organized crime. In mid-June, they embedded a second undercover to work as Senior’s shady partner.

Investigators believed their scenario came to fruition on Sept. 12, 2018 when Senior ran a licence plate to help “Henry Wong” find the location of his rival’s drug stash. Believing their work was over, they readied their arrest warrant.

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“But Mr. Senior was not done,” the prosecutors wrote in their brief filed with the court.

Senior approached his partner and asked if he wanted to “make some money” and steal the stash themselves, the Crowns said, so the investigation continued.

“Once Mr. Senior stole the loaded YRP shotgun in preparation for the robbery, investigators rendered it inert and arrested Mr. Senior.”

Senior wasn’t manipulated into committing crimes, he did them “completely on his own accord,” Scrutton told the judge. “Mr. Senior is the driver.”

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Struthers and lawyer Ashli Pinnock argued the entire Project Tadeu investigation was designed to manipulate Senior and take advantage of his deepest insecurities: “his ostentatious need to impress others, his sense of unfulfilled professionalism, his need for comradery, his perilous romantic life, and his sense of compassion.”

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They contended his “racialized” undercover partner used his position as mentor and friend to instigate the crimes and convince Senior they were a good idea.

They may have a point when it comes to Senior’s conviction for trafficking in steroids. After his undercover partner asked him at least eight times to get them for him, Senior finally agreed.

“He ultimately gave in after five weeks of being asked, to help his close friend and partner,” his lawyers wrote. “The overall police conduct throughout the investigation is so egregious that a stay of proceedings for abuse of process is warranted.”

Let a cop walk after he stole a YRP shotgun and offered to traffic cocaine?

“The Crown submits that a stay of proceedings on these counts, on these facts, would shock the community,” prosecutors rightly suggest.

Christie is expected to deliver her judgment in November.

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