Fraud, theft and money laundering by OPP union's top brass

Police corruption is a form of police misconduct designed to obtain financial benefits, other personal gain, or career advancement for officers in exchange for not pursuing, or selectively pursuing, an investigation or arrest. One common form of police corruption is soliciting or accepting bribes in exchange for not reporting organized drug or prostitution rings or other illegal activities. Another example is police officers flouting the police code of conduct in order to secure convictions of suspects — for example, through the use of falsified evidence.

OPP union dumps chief executive Karl Walsh

Postby Thomas » Sun Mar 15, 2015 2:33 pm

OPP union dumps chief executive Karl Walsh as RCMP inquiry continues

The Ontario Provincial Police Association has cut ties with its chief administrative officer amid an ongoing investigation into allegations of fraud, breach of trust and money laundering by a handful of union officials.

On Saturday, the OPPA notified its members that a notice of termination had been delivered to Karl Walsh, the now-former chief administrative officer for the union.

The email to members indicated that Michael Briscoe will continue to serve as the union's acting chief administrative officer.

Walsh, who ran for a provincial seat in the 2011 election for the Liberals, had been put on administrative leave just days before the OPPA terminated his employment.

James (Jim) Christie, the union's president, and Martin Bain, the union's vice-president, have taken voluntary leaves of absence.

The union has said that the managers' leaves should not be considered an admission of wrongdoing.

None of the three managers have been charged with a criminal offence. And none of the allegations have been proven.

However, the RCMP have stated in documents used to obtain search warrants that they believe these managers were involved in:

- The unusual investment of union money in condos in the Bahamas.
- The formation of a company to provide exclusive travel services for both union business and personal travel by members
- The formation of a consulting company to advise the union about investments, including a three-year deal that would bill the union $5,000 a month.
- Questionable vacation and travel expenses billed to the union, in some cases totaling more than $100,000 a year.

In court documents, the RCMP have listed the names of other individuals, who are not members of the OPPA executive, who are also under investigation.

The RCMP probe began in October following complaints by union staff alleging fraud.

OPPA Communique, March 14, 2015.jpg
OPPA Blastout, March 14, 2015


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OPP union fires embattled executive

Postby Thomas » Sun Mar 15, 2015 2:36 pm

The Ontario Provincial Police Association has fired its embattled CAO, Karl Walsh, just days after the RCMP exercised search warrants at its Barrie office as well as up to a dozen other locations, the Sun has learned.

The decision was made Friday but delivered to its more than 10,000 members in an e-mail blast Saturday, signed by "acting president Doug Lewis and the board of directors, Ontario Provincial Police Association."

"The board of directors met on Friday ... in Barrie and unanimously approved a motion to terminate the employment contract of former CAO Karl Walsh," the e-mail said. "Notice of termination has been delivered. Part of that notice requires the return of all OPPAowned equipment, including vehicle and any electronic equipment."

This comes after police documents alleging executives within the OPPA were part of a massive fraud came to light. There have been no criminal charges and none of the allegations have been tested in court.

As the Toronto Sun's Antonella Artuso reported Friday, "RCMP Sgt. Gordon Aristotle sought the records of OPPA president Jim Christie, vice-president Martin Bain and chief administrative officer Karl Walsh, lawyer Andrew MacKay, Klara Kozak and Noel Francis Chantiam" and elect ronic records related to PIN Consulting Group, Leximco Travel, First Response Travel Group and an "unknown offshore company."

Christie and Bain are currently on a leave of absence from their positions.

Walsh, who also served as president of the OPPA and ran for the Liberals in the 2011 provincial election, could not be reached for comment.

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OPP union executive fired over theft, fraud allegations

Postby Thomas » Sun Mar 15, 2015 2:44 pm

The union representing the Ontario Provincial Police has fired a senior executive amid a criminal probe into allegations that he participated in a scheme involving a travel company and offshore investments to defraud its members.

Doug Lewis, acting president of the Ontario Provincial Police Association, announced in an e-mail to staff that chief administrative officer Karl Walsh has been fired.

Mr. Lewis said through a spokesman on Sunday that the association’s board of directors unanimously agreed to terminate Mr. Walsh’s employment contract at a meeting on Friday.

The spokesman declined to elaborate.

The RCMP alleges that Mr. Walsh, union president Jim Christie and vice-president Martin Bain committed theft, breach of trust, fraud and laundered the proceeds of crime.

The allegations are laid out in documents the RCMP filed with the Ontario Superior Court to obtain search warrants for a March 6 raid on the union’s head office in Barrie, Ontario. The RCMP also searched the offices of Mr. Walsh, Mr. Christie and Mr. Bain. All three men are police officers.

Mr. Walsh was placed on administrative leave the same day the warrant was executed, the association said in a statement last week. Mr. Christie and Mr. Bain took voluntary leaves of absence.

None of the allegations have been proven and no charges have been laid.

The association said in the statement that it has fully cooperated with the RCMP investigation by handing over items identified in the search warrant.

“These actions should not be considered admissions or implications of wrongdoing or liability by anyone or by the Association,” the statement said.

In the documents, RCMP Sergeant Gordon Aristotle alleges that the three union officials own half the shares of First Response Travel Group, a company created last year, and that union employees were encouraged to use the company for their travel needs. The three men have not disclosed their ownership in First Response to the union, the documents allege.

The RCMP documents also allege that a consulting company was charging the union monthly consulting fees. The three men used the consulting fees to purchase shares in the travel company. The shares in First Response were held in trust through an offshore investment scheme, the documents allege.

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OPP officers suspended amid RCMP investigation into union

Postby Thomas » Mon Mar 16, 2015 1:55 am

Allegations of fraud, breach of trust and money laundering by top union managers

The Ontario Provincial Police Association has cut ties with its chief administrative officer amid an investigation into allegations of fraud, breach of trust and money laundering by a handful of union officials.

On Saturday, the OPPA notified its members that a notice of termination had been delivered to Karl Walsh, the now-former chief administrative officer for the union. The email to members indicated that Michael Briscoe would continue to serve as the union's acting chief administrative officer.

Walsh, who ran for a provincial seat in the 2011 election for the Liberals, had been put on administrative leave just days before the OPPA terminated his employment.

James (Jim) Christie, the union's president, and Martin Bain, the union's vice-president, have taken voluntary leaves of absence.

In a weekend news release OPP Commissioner J.V.N. (Vince) Hawkes announced three officers have been suspended from duty pursuant to Section 89 (1) of the Police Services Act:

- Det. Sgt. James Christie.
- Const. Martin Bain.
- Const. Karl Walsh.

The OPP will not be commenting further on the continuing RCMP investigation, the release said.

The union has said that the managers' leaves should not be considered an admission of wrongdoing.

None of the three managers have been charged with a criminal offence, and none of the allegations have been proven.

However, the RCMP have stated in documents used to obtain search warrants that they believe these managers were involved in:

- The unusual investment of union money in condos in the Bahamas.
- The formation of a company to provide exclusive travel services for both union business and personal travel by members
- The formation of a consulting company to advise the union about investments, including a three-year deal that would bill the union $5,000 a month.
- Questionable vacation and travel expenses billed to the union, in some cases totalling more than $100,000 a year.

In court documents, the RCMP have listed the names of other individuals, who are not members of the OPPA executive, who are also under investigation.

The RCMP probe began in October following complaints by union staff alleging fraud.

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OPP officers at centre of RCMP investigation suspended

Postby Thomas » Mon Mar 16, 2015 1:59 am

On Sunday, the OPP announced that OPP commissioner Vince Hawkes had ordered detective sergeant James Christie, provincial constable Martin Bain and provincial constable Karl Walsh suspended from duty.

Three Ontario Provincial Police officers have been suspended from duty amid an ongoing RCMP investigation involving the top brass of the OPP union.

On Sunday, the OPP announced that commissioner Vince Hawkes had ordered detective sergeant James Christie, provincial constable Martin Bain and provincial constable Karl Walsh suspended from duty on Friday.

The RCMP investigation alleges that all three high-ranking members of the Ontario Provincial Police Association participated in a sophisticated financial scheme to defraud the union’s membership using a travel company, a consulting firm and risky offshore investments.

The unproven allegations against the top OPPA officials are contained in an affidavit used to obtain search warrants executed by the RCMP late last week.

None of the allegations have been proven and no charges have been laid.

Christie, Bain and Walsh are suspended from the OPP indefinitely and with pay, according to sergeant Peter Leon, provincial media relations coordinator with the OPP.

“There is an investigation… that is underway. So at this point, the suspension is in effect until determined otherwise by the commissioner of the OPP,” Leon said.

Word of the trio’s suspension comes shortly after Walsh’s firing from the union.

An email from Doug Lewis, acting president of the OPPA, to union staff said the Board of Directors met on Friday, March 13 in Barrie and “unanimously approved” a motion to terminate the employment contract of Walsh, the union’s now-former chief administrative officer.

As chief administrative officer, Walsh was responsible for the association’s $70-million budget, and previously served as president from October 2005 to March 2011.
The OPPA represents approximately 6,200 uniformed members and 3,600 civilian staff across Ontario.

The union has hired the law firm Stikeman Elliott to conduct an internal investigation into the alleged criminal ring at its upper ranks, which is “still ongoing at this time” according to Josh Jutras, strategic communications coordinator with the OPPA.

Following Walsh’s firing from the OPPA, Bain and Christie have since taken leaves of absence from the union.

Among the offshore investments the trio allegedly used to profit from and “deceive” union members are two condos in Nassau, Bahamas and over $100,000 of OPPA funds wired to the Cayman Islands to pay for shares in a Cayman-based income fund.

The RCMP affidavit states that the trio’s alleged accomplices include Toronto criminal lawyer Andrew McKay, a former police officer, as well as Noel Francis Chantiam and Klara Kozak, who are partners in First Response, the travel company believed to be involved in the scheme.

McKay, Kozak and Chantiam are alleged to have committed fraudulent concealment, laundering proceeds of crime and fraud, according to the affidavit.

With files from Wendy Gillis, Rachel Mendleson, Eric Andrew-Gee and Star wire services.

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OPP officers at centre of OPPA probe suspended from force

Postby Thomas » Mon Mar 16, 2015 6:09 am

Three OPP officers — all once high-ranking members of the Ontario Provincial Police Association — have been suspended from the force with pay, according to the OPP.

Det.-Sgt. Jim Christie, Const. Martin Bain, and Const. Karl Walsh were ordered suspended from duty by OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes this weekend.

The suspensions come just a week after the OPPA offices were raided by the RCMP as part of a criminal investigation.

“As a result of the RCMP-led investigation, this is something Commissioner Hawkes deemed to be necessary,” OPP spokesman Sgt. Peter Leon said.

Christie, the president of the OPPA and Bain, vice-president of the union, recently took leaves of absence from the association. Walsh, the former chief administrative officer, was fired.

The OPP referred all further questions to the RCMP, which could not be reached for comment. Acting president Doug Lewis has previously said that he is “shocked” by the allegations contained in the ITO and that the OPPA is cooperating fully with the RCMP’s investigation.

The OPPA did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday night.

An Information To Obtain (ITO) released on Friday alleged there are reasonable grounds to believe Christie, Bain, and Walsh committed theft, fraud, criminal breach of trust, and laundered criminal proceeds.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and no charges have been laid.

According to the ITO, employees of the almost-10,000-strong police union complained about suspected fraudulent activity in October 2014.

— With files from Antonella Artuso

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Central figure in RCMP investigation started at local detach

Postby Thomas » Mon Mar 16, 2015 3:03 pm

Central figure in RCMP investigation started with local detachment

Karl Walsh, who was fired over the weekend as the CAO of the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) by its board of directors, and suspended from duty by the OPP pending the outcome of the RCMP investigation, entered the provincial police force as a member of the Nottawasaga OPP, in 1995.

Mr. Walsh joined the Nottawasaga detachment after serving in the Canadian army at CFB Borden as military police.
The RCMP raided the OPPA offices in Barrie on March 6th, targetting among others, Mr. Walsh, union president Jim Christie and vice-president Martin Bain.

The RCMP investigation involves allegations of theft, breach of trust, fraud and laundering the proceeds of crime. The allegations have not been proven in court nor have any charges been laid.

"Due to the ongoing investigation that is currently being conducted by the RCMP, I am not in a position to speak to the work history of Provincial Constable Karl Walsh," said Sgt Peter Leon OPP Media Relations Coordinator," in an email reply this afternoon.

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How Political is the Karl Walsh RCMP Investigation?

Postby Thomas » Mon Mar 16, 2015 3:07 pm

CFN – Fascinating. Looking at the search warrants laid against now former OPPA President Karl Walsh an alleged potential money trail leads to distant lands where banking is a bit friendlier than here in Canada.

Theft, Criminal Breach of Trust, Fraud, Laundering the Proceeds of Crime, Fraudulent Concealment are usually not terms applied to high level OPP Officers or even elected officials.

Clearly while the charges against Mr. Walsh have not been proven in court his being terminated by OPPA is not a positive sign. However what’s most intriguing to this case is the back story.

Mr. Walsh was no simple Union Prez. He was a candidate for the Ontario Liberals against Mr. Hudak’s PC Party.

Clearly Mr. Walsh used his position this past election when OPPA clearly campaigned against Mr. Hudak.

That was the previous provincial election. In the election that just resulted in a Majority Wynne victory much of the credit was due to Mr. Hudak’s bizarre strategy of cutting public sector jobs and union’s stand against him.

In what it describes as an unprecedented move, the Ontario Provincial Police Association has launched an attack ad campaign against Tim Hudak, declaring that the Progressive Conservative leader has plucked his policies from the “Tea Party world” of the United States. The union representing 6,000 uniformed officers and nearly 3,000 civilian members began airing two 15-second ads Monday. The ads end with the words “We’re here for you. Who’s Tim Hudak here for?”

That quote, from a CBC story during the election begs the question whether the OPP are the right force to investigate any issues related to Queen’s Park and the Liberals in particular after the actions of the OPPA.

“Our association is politically active 365 days a year,” Christie said, highlighting again the difference between the Ontario Provincial Police proper and the labour organization that he heads. The association has been donating money to all three major parties for years, advocates for legislation, and regularly meets with MPPs.

That was from an Ottawa Citizen story.

When looking at Conflict of Interest the optics of potential are considered as much as an actual conflict.

In 2011 Mr. Walsh lost a close race. In 2014 the riding did go Liberal.

The reality is that partisan politics have no place in Policing. The role of fire fighters and police in municipal and provincial elections can literally change the society we live in. Clearly it had an impact on the outcome in 2014. And could anyone blame a reasonable person for questioning any investigation into the government by the OPP when it’s President was radically partisan?

The bigger question is if this investigation, allegations which are being smeared all over the media, will have any impact on how “business is done” after it’s all over.

In the meanwhile the OPPA will have to lick its wounds and deal with repercussions.

Requests for comment were not responded to by OPPA as of press time.

Here is Mr. Walsh’s bio from his political Facebook page.

Committed to public service, Karl Walsh has spent a thirty-year career in policing and the military.

A 17-year member of the OPP, Karl was acclaimed to a second term as President of the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) in 2008. In this role he represented over 8,500 uniformed and civilian OPP members providing community-based policing and specialized police services to residents in over 300 municipalities across Ontario.

A strong voice for community safety, he is also a member of the Canadian Police Association Board of Directors, and a former Director with both the Canadian Police Association and Police Association of Ontario. Most recently, Karl has completed a three-year term as a member of the Federal Judicial Advisory Committee.

Prior to joining the OPP, Karl was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces for 14 years, including nine months served in post-war Kosovo. Military duties included Sonarman and Ships Diver, general duties with the Military Police, criminal investigations, high-level security background investigations, and criminal intelligence functions.

Karl has completed the Franklin Covey 7 Habits of a Highly Effective People as well as the Speed of Trust. He is a graduate of the Harvard Trade Union Program (2010). For his military service, he received the Canadian Forces Decoration, the Special Service Medal, the UN Peacekeeping Medal, and Kosovo Mission Medal. He is also a recipient of the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals.


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OPP union scandal implicates former Manitoulin officer

Postby Thomas » Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:28 pm

BARRIE—Officers from the RCMP executed a search warrant at the head office of the OPP Association (OPPA) in Barrie on Friday, March 6. The RCMP were conducting a criminal investigation and apparently believed that evidence to support that investigation could be found in the OPPA head office as well as the offices of OPPA President Jim Christie, Vice-President Martin Bain (formerly of Little Current) and CAO Karl Walsh.

In the days that followed, tantalizing revelations of what is suspected has gone on at the OPPA have followed on the heels of the unceremonious termination of Mr. Walsh’s employment with the association, a demand for the return of all equipment and vehicles in his possession, along with the suspensions with pay of Mr. Christie and Mr. Bain. None of the above had been charged with any crime and no allegations have been proven in court.

Constable Bain was an officer with the Manitoulin OPP detachment for several years.

The sequence of revelations appearing in the media has provided a cascade of information and a flurry of press releases from the organizations impacted by the raid, which included homes and vehicles.

A press release from the OPPA indicated that they cooperated with the RCMP investigation by providing them with the items identified in their search warrant. Those items were not identified in that release.

According to the release, “in the best interests of the association and its membership, effective immediately, President Jim Christie and Vice-President Martin Bain have taken voluntary leaves of absence from the OPPA. In addition, CAO Karl Walsh has been placed on administrative leave by the board of directors.”

The release goes on to state “these actions should not be considered admissions or implications of wrongdoing or liability by anyone or by the association. The association has no knowledge of any charges being laid against any persons at this time.”

All lawful authority of the OPPA is now vested with acting-President Doug Lewis, Acting Vice-President Todd Provost, the board of directors and acting CAO Michael Briscoe. The release assures all members that steps have been taken to ensure that the day-to-day operations of the OPPA continue uninterrupted.

The release goes on to add, “Acting President Lewis and the board of directors would like to thank the staff of the association for their dedication during this difficult time. They wish to reassure members of the association that the high level of professional service they have received in the past will continue.”

The association notes in the release that it “is in the process of obtaining specialized independent legal advice with respect to this matter.”

Due to the ongoing investigation, the press release adds that the OPP Association will not be commenting further at this time.

But comment they did. With a new release to members, the OPPA indicated that the search warrant stated there were “reasonable grounds for believing that the following offenses have been committed:

- Section 322 Theft Criminal Code; Section 336 Criminal Breach of Trust Criminal Code;
- Section 380 (1) Fraud Criminal Code;
- Section 462.31 Laundering the Proceeds of Crime Criminal Code; and
- Section 341 Fraudulent Concealment Criminal Code.”

In addition, continues the notice to members, “an internal investigation is being conducted by the independent legal firm of Stikeman Elliott. Counsel from Stikeman Elliot is conducting the investigation under the oversight of the Acting CAO, Michael Briscoe.”

Media reports indicate that RCMP Const. Jean Juneau has said the search warrant was ordered sealed by an Ontario Superior Court judge, ensuring details of evidence sought by the RCMP are not available to the public. Constable Juneau was adamant that no charges were imminent in the recently begun investigation.

Media reports indicate that the RCMP investigation alleged the top leaders of the OPPA “set up a sophisticated network of schemes involving secretly owned companies and offshore investments to defraud union members.”

According to media reports, a travel agency (First Response, a division of Leximco, a corporation which lists Andrew McKay, a lawyer also named in the warrant documents, among its directors) had been set up in a sweetheart deal involving “the unusual investment of union money in condos in the Bahamas; the formation of a company to provide exclusive travel services for both union business and personal travel by members; the formation of a consulting company to advise the union about investments, including a three-year deal that would bill the union $5,000 a month; and questionable vacation and travel expenses billed to the union, in some cases totalling more than $100,000 a year.” None of the allegations against Mr. McKay have been proven in court.

A subsequent press release from the OPPA indicated the suspensions of Mr. Christie and Mr. Bain and a subsequent release from the OPPA provided a link to a statement by the Ontario Pensions Board. The linked statement reads: “Effective immediately, the OPPA has withdrawn Karl Walsh’s nomination to the Ontario Pension Board (OPB) Board of Directors and has put forward a replacement nominee to the government. Earlier this week, OPB became aware that Mr. Walsh is currently under investigation by the RCMP. We have been actively monitoring the situation and have been in communication with the OPPA and the government. While the allegations against Mr. Walsh remain unproven, OPB wishes to reassure our members that Mr. Walsh was not involved in the operations of OPB. Mr. Walsh was one of nine members of the board of directors of OPB. The board provides oversight and acts by majority vote. It is not involved in operational matters. Mr. Walsh had no signing authority or ability to make commitments on OPB’s behalf, did not determine pension entitlements and was not a member of the Investment Committee or the Audit Committee of the board of directors. We would also like to reassure our members that OPB has never used the travel agency, or the consulting firm, being investigated.”

Mr. Walsh was a Barrie provincial Liberal candidate in the 2011 election and was at the administration helm of the OPPA when it created two videos attacking then Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak for “wanting to cancel OPP contracts, reduce pay and cut pension plans for new recruits.”

There are about 6,200 uniformed and 3,600 civilian members of the OPPA, which is currently in contract talks with the provincial government.

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OPP not affected by OPPA probe, commish says

Postby Thomas » Thu Mar 19, 2015 5:35 pm

TORONTO - Don’t confuse the OPP with the union that looks after cops’ benefits, says OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes.

His warning comes shortly after he suspended executives at the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) from the force with pay.

Det. Sgt. Jim Christie, Const. Martin Bain, and Const. Karl Walsh were ordered suspended from duty by Hawkes last weekend.

Earlier this month, OPPA offices were raided by the RCMP as part of a criminal investigation.

According to RCMP information-to-obtain (ITO) documents, the OPPA allegedly purchased two condos in the Bahamas — valued at $1.6 million and $625,000 — as an “investment.” The RCMP also alleges the union made another “high risk” investment in the Cayman Islands.

The ITO says there are reasonable grounds to believe that Bain, Christie and Walsh committed the offence of theft, criminal breach of trust, fraud and laundering the proceeds of crime.

None of the allegations have been tested in court and no charges have been laid.

“There’s a huge difference between what our investigators do and the separate organization that is the OPPA,” Hawkes said in an interview this week.

He assured me his officers are highly-trained investigators who are maintaining a high level of professionalism as they go about their work.

And the OPPA has no influence whatsoever in OPP operational matters, he said.

“I can guarantee you there is no link between those investigations,” Hawkes said.

He assured me that the sensitive, ongoing probes such as the ones into allegations of bribery in the Sudbury byelection, the Ornge air ambulance fiasco and e-mails that were deleted by senior staff members in the office of former premier Dalton McGuinty as he left office were not in any way impacted by the allegations against the former OPPA executives.

The OPPA scandal hasn’t touched his officers and he’s confident they can continue those probes.

“I am very, very comfortable with the level of professionalism that our officers exhibited during all of these investigations,” Hawkes said.

“They are highly accountable. I have no fear about that. They will be able to continue these investigations in a very professional manner.”

While the OPPA probe has presented a “difficult challenge” for the organization that provides benefits and support for OPP officers, it has not in any way affected the way officers are doing their jobs, Hawkes said.

This isn’t the first time the OPPA has run afoul of Hawkes. During last spring’s provincial election campaign, he blasted the OPPA for controversial ads that used footage of an OPP cruiser and a uniformed officer to slam then-PC leader Tim Hudak.

At the time, Paul Copeland, a highly respected lawyer and life bencher with the Law Society of Upper Canada, told me he believed the union had broken the law.

While there was never any investigation or charges laid, Copeland pointed out the Public Service Act prohibits civil servants from commenting on “matters that are directly related to those duties.”

Back then, my colleague Joe Warmington quoted Hawkes saying the OPP doesn’t get involved in politics.

“We are impartial,” Hawkes told Warmington. “We conduct our investigations independently.”

The union was forced to add the letter “A” to a voiceover in the ad.

“We’re the OPP and we’re here for you. Who’s Tim Hudak here for?” the voiceover originally asked.

In 2011, Walsh ran unsuccessfully for the Liberals in Barrie.

Front-line officers disagreed with the OPPA over their political ads. There was a vigorous internal debate among cops who felt the union should stay out of the election campaign.

Look, the OPP is a great police force. They’ve never hesitated to take up difficult, politically sensitive investigations.

It’s a terrible pity that the alleged activities of a handful of their militant union types have once again cast them under a shadow.

Hawkes is upholding that great tradition Copeland was talking about: Cops are cops and politicians are politicians and the two should never mix. Certainly not when they’re in uniform.

Make no mistake. Hawkes’ officers are doing a tough job under very trying circumstances.

We should all be proud to have them working on our behalf.

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OPPA charges top brass with bylaw violations

Postby Thomas » Thu Mar 19, 2015 5:45 pm

All twenty of the Ontario Provincial Police union’s branch presidents have voted to charge three of its top officials with bylaw violations following explosive RCMP allegations against the former president, vice-president and the chief administrative officer, according to a communiqué sent to members Wednesday.

The Mounties allege James Christie, Martin Bain and Karl Walsh participated in a sophisticated financial scheme “to profit and deceive” their members.

The unproven allegations — contained in an affidavit the RCMP used to obtain search warrants executed earlier this month, and made public last week — include theft, breach of trust, fraud and laundering the proceeds of crime.

None of the allegations have been proven and no charges have been laid.

At a meeting Tuesday, all 20 of the current branch presidents at the Ontario Provincial Police Association voted to charge the trio with union bylaw violations, according to the membership newsletter, which was obtained by the Star.

“Specifically, the Branch Presidents allege that the three have engaged in actions that may have brought the reputation of the Association into disrepute, and that, based on the allegations outlined in the (RCMP affidavit)… they have breached the OPPA by-law regarding investments,” writes acting OPPA president Doug Lewis and the union board of directors in the newsletter.

The decision comes after a tumultuous week for the union, which began with last week’s stunning revelation the RCMP raided the OPPA headquarters in Barrie earlier this month.

In the wake of the raids — which included searches of private homes, company vehicles and more — Christie, Bain and Walsh voluntarily stepped aside.
Just days later, the details of the Mounties’ unproven allegations against the trio and others were unleashed, when the RCMP affidavit used to obtain search warrants were unsealed.

The court documents revealed the allegations that the three men and others — including the OPPA lawyer and former police officer, Andrew McKay — had developed a complex scheme involving a travel company, a consulting firm and high-risk offshore investments.

On Friday, the union board of directors met in Barrie and unanimously approved a motion to fire Walsh, the former chief administrative officer. Two days later, the union announced OPP commissioner Vince Hawkes had ordered Christie, Bain and Karl Walsh suspended from duty.

The communiqué sent the union’s nearly ten thousand members this week states the three men are presumed innocent of the charges pending an investigation, and the association will continue to pay Christie and Bain their honoraria.

The union is currently conducting its own independent internal investigation by the legal firm of Stikeman Elliott.

OPPA Communique, March 14, 2018.jpg
OPPA Blastout March 18, 2015


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OPP union actions have hurt the OPP

Postby Thomas » Fri Mar 20, 2015 7:56 am

Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Vince Hawkes understands the OPP has a huge problem of public perception on its hands because of the actions of its police union.

That’s why he emphasized in an interview with Sun Queen’s Park columnist Christina Blizzard Wednesday that those actions have not impacted on the OPP investigations into the Liberal government’s Ornge and gas plant controversies.

Nor on the OPP’s investigation into Premier Kathleen Wynne’s administration regarding the Sudbury byelection.

The problem is that once a perception is created, it’s hard to reassure the public it’s not the reality.

The moment the Ontario Provincial Police Association ran an advertisement during the last election campaign stating the OPP was urging the public not to vote for then Conservative leader Tim Hudak, the damage was done.

It wasn’t just the use of the term “OPP” in the voice-over, which the union was forced to correct.

It was using the image of a uniformed officer that would cause any reasonable person to question the force’s political neutrality.

By running the attack ad against Hudak, Wynne’s main opponent, the OPPA (and other public sector unions) were in effect helping the Liberals, who could thus concentrate their election advertising dollars on positive messaging about Wynne.

The fact the Wynne government presides over collective bargaining with the OPPA, impacting officers’ salaries, benefits and working conditions, has created at the very least the perception of a conflict of interest between the two parties.

That Wynne’s administration is now under investigation by the OPP in the Sudbury byelection controversy, involving allegations of bribing a Liberal candidate not to run — a Criminal Code and Elections Act offence, if proven — makes this issue of perception more serious.

So does the fact the OPPA is now caught up in an RCMP investigation into alleged financial irregularities, and that one of the three senior union officials suspended with pay is a former Liberal candidate.

The problem for the OPP is that, despite Hawkes’ sincere assurances, the outcome of the three OPP investigations will now be judged by the public in the context of all that has gone on before.

In other words, the damage to the OPP’s credibility has already been done by the OPPA’s actions, because you cannot unring a bell.

http://www.torontosun.com/2015/03/19/op ... rt-the-opp

http://m.ottawasun.com/2015/03/19/opp-u ... rt-the-opp

http://m.ottawasun.com/2015/03/18/opp-n ... mmish-says
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Three suspended OPP union leaders all on "sunshine list"

Postby Thomas » Sun Mar 29, 2015 9:29 am

Members of the union's top brass under investigation by the RCMP over fraud allegations all earned six-figure incomes from police and union pay last year.

The three Ontario Provincial Police officers who have been suspended with pay amid an ongoing RCMP investigation into the OPP union’s top brass are all on the “sunshine list.”

The annual list of provincial staff making at least $100,000 includes former Ontario Provincial Police Association president James Christie, with a salary of $187,701, former vice president Martin Bain, with a salary of $162,968, and former chief administrative officer Karl Walsh, with a salary of $182,069.


The RCMP alleges that Christie, Bain and Walsh participated in a sophisticated financial scheme to defraud the union’s membership using a travel company, a consulting firm, risky offshore investments, and more. No charges have been laid.

The unproven allegations — contained in an affidavit the RCMP used to obtain search warrants executed earlier this month, and made public last week — include theft, breach of trust, fraud and laundering the proceeds of crime.

The OPPA’s 20 union branch presidents recently voted to charge the three high-ranking members with bylaw violations, according to a communiqué sent to members last week.

The decision came after word broke that the RCMP had raided the union’s headquarters in Barrie earlier this month. Walsh has since been fired from the union, and Bain and Christie have taken leaves of absence.

All three have also been suspended from the OPP indefinitely and with pay.

Peter Leon, provincial media relations coordinator with the OPP, said their salaries as listed on the “sunshine list” equal a combination of their OPP salary and an honorarium for their union positions.

Their current with-pay suspensions would be at the same OPP pay scale as their 2014 salaries, he said.

Josh Jutras, strategic communications coordinator for the OPPA, would not provide comment when asked how much of their listed salaries come from union honorariums.

The RCMP affidavit revealed allegations that the trio and several alleged accomplices — including the OPPA lawyer and former police officer Andrew McKay — developed a complex scheme that involved high-risk offshore investments, including more than $100,000 in union funds allegedly wired to a Cayman Islands-based income fund.

The OPPA is currently conducting its own independent internal investigation by the legal firm of Stikeman Elliott.

With files from Wendy Gillis

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/03 ... -list.html

http://www.insidebelleville.com/news-st ... ine-list-/
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Suspended OPPA union leaders all on 'sunshine list'

Postby Thomas » Wed Apr 08, 2015 1:09 am

TORONTO—The names of three Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) officials who have been suspended (with pay) during an ongoing RCMP investigation of unproven allegations that the three participated in a sophisticated scheme to defraud the union’s membership through tactics that included a travel company, consulting firm and risky offshore investments, could be found on the annual “sunshine list” of provincial staff making more than $100,000.

Featured on the list are former OPPA President James Christie, salary cited at $187,701, former vice president Martin Bain, salary cited at $162,968, and former chief administrative officer Karl Walsh, whose salary was listed as $182,069.

The unproven allegations against the elected union officials, who stepped aside from their OPPA roles in the immediate aftermath of a police raid on offices, homes and vehicles, and the former CAO Walsh, who was fired from his position with the union, were contained in the search warrant used in the searches. Those unproven allegations included theft, breach of trust, fraud and laundering the proceeds of crime. All three have been suspended from the OPP indefinitely with pay, but no charges have as yet been laid.

A recent communiqué from the OPPA has announced that the association’s 20 union branch presidents voted to charge the three high-ranking members with bylaw violations. “Specifically, the branch presidents allege that the three have engaged in actions that may have brought the reputation of the association into disrepute, and that, based on the allegations outlined in the (RCMP affidavit),” acting OPPA president Doug Lewis and the union board of directors said in the OPPA newsletter, “they have breached the OPPA bylaw regarding investments.”

Among those being investigated in the case are OPPA lawyer (and former police officer) Andrew McKay. Mr. Mckay is alleged to have developed a complex scheme involving the travel company, a consulting firm and the aforementioned high-risk offshore investments.

Among the alleged investments made by the union executives were two beachside condos in the Bahamas, one valued at $1.5 million and $100,000 in union money wired to a Cayman Islands income fund.

Two days following the OPPA decision to fire OPPA CAO Walsh, OPP commissioner Vince Hawkes ordered Christie, Bain and Walsh suspended from duty.

As the allegations have not been proven, either in court or through the OPPA’s own internal investigation, and under the presumption of innocence contained in Canadian law, the officers will continue to receive both their OPP paycheques and their honouria as union officials.

http://www.manitoulin.ca/2015/04/08/sus ... hine-list/
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OPP union mess reveals a ‘toxic’ work culture

Postby Thomas » Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:24 am

OPP union mess reveals a ‘toxic’ work culture amid allegations of theft and fraud

Two reviews into the Ontario Provincial Police Association reveal that “tyrannical” leaders led to a complete breakdown of governance.

There were harassing, expletive-filled emails, including one telling a staffer to “hurry the f--- up” and another threatening to “rip off” a board member’s head.

There were employees brought to tears from “bullying” by top brass, including allegations of inappropriate comments directed at female staff, and that a top official claimed the union was a “workplace discrimination harassment policy-free zone.”

And there was misspending using union credit cards, including trips to the LCBO, $617 spent at “Cigar Masters” in Boston, and extravagant meals — including a $1,392.32 tab racked up at two Monster Jam events at the Rogers Centre.

An independent internal review into the Ontario Provincial Police Association, commissioned by the union in the wake of a criminal investigation targeting top association brass, reveals a “toxic” and “fear-based” work culture, with “tyrannical” leaders who intimidated staff so effectively that “virtually every aspect” of the union’s accountability system failed.

It was “a perfect storm of corporate governance,” according to Carol Hansell, a top legal expert on governance who produced a report for the OPPA to help the union make sweeping changes — including reforming its accounting and expense system and developing a new whistleblower policy.

Explosive allegations of criminal activity rocked the OPP union in March, when the RCMP raided OPPA headquarters and the homes of the union’s former top three bosses: president Jim Christie, vice-president Martin Bain and chief administrative officer Karl Walsh.

The RCMP allege Christie, Bain and Walsh committed theft, breach of trust, fraud and money laundering. No charges have been laid and the RCMP’s investigation is ongoing.

Walsh has since been fired, and Christie and Bain have been suspended.

“Considering the fact that there is an ongoing RCMP investigation, at this time we are unable to comment on these internal investigative reports prepared at the request of the OPPA,” said lawyer Julianna Greenspan, on behalf of the men.

The men also declined to be interviewed for the OPPA internal review, citing the ongoing RCMP probe, though Greenspan issued a statement to reviewers in July saying: “we trust that your investigation thus far has revealed the inaccuracies that are rife within the (RCMP documents).”

Unproven allegations, contained in an affidavit the RCMP used to obtain a series of search warrants, include that the trio participated in a sophisticated financial scheme involving a consulting firm, a travel company and high-risk offshore investments, including two beachside condos in the Bahamas, one valued at $1.5 million.

The criminal investigation was initiated when four union whistleblowers took their concerns to police. The resulting RCMP allegations were “a huge shock to the OPPA’s collective system,” says Doug Lewis, OPPA acting present, and within days the union hired the legal firm of Stikeman Elliott to perform an independent internal investigation.

“We have seen some evidence of bad behaviour, to say the least,” Lewis said in an interview Tuesday. “We’re hopeful that at the end of all this we’ll be able to turn the page and move forward.”

The result of Stikeman Elliott’s five-month investigation — which included interviews with every OPPA employee and board member and nearly 9,000 emails and other documents — were released to all OPPA members Tuesday and obtained by the Star.

The review paints a picture of a dysfunctional work environment, where some staff and board members were beginning to question decisions by Christie or Walsh, but were ultimately too afraid to challenge them for fear of reprisal.

When, at an October 2014 board meeting, executive officer Marty McNamara challenged recent high-risk offshore investments, including a condo in the Cayman Islands, he stated the investment appears to be “money-laundering.”

The meeting then went in camera, and there are no minutes from the meeting. But Stikeman Elliott’s review of emails found that shortly after, Bain fired off an email to Christie.

“(McNamara) kept alluding to us in the Caymans and laundering money. Karl (Walsh) and I will be ripping his head off at the brae (sic) for even suggesting it 3 times.”

One member of the OPPA’s audit committee told Stikeman Elliott that he had a concerns with one financial report, but because the union is “a para-military organization, he felt that he could not question authority unless the reason for doing so was blatantly clear,” according to the report.

Multiple interviewees said the workplace environment was characterized by intimidation and bullying, mostly by Christie and Walsh. Walsh in particular, the Stikeman Elliott report stated, was “famous” for sending “tyrannical,” “aggressive,” “confrontational” or “scathing” emails.

“One staff member reported having to repeatedly console other staff members who were brought to tears by Walsh’s bullying. Some staff also raised concerns about inappropriate behaviour or comments from Christie and Walsh towards or about women and, in one instance, from Walsh towards a member of a specific religion,” says the report.

Bain, however, appeared not to have participated in the same type of “tyrannical” or bullying conduct, “which was stated to be common from Christie and Walsh,” the review noted.

Without the damaging workplace culture, the alleged criminal activity probably could have been halted, according to Hansell, the legal expert in governance. Hansell authored a set of recommendations for the OPPA, based in part on the Stikeman Elliott review.

“There are a number of things that could have been done differently, but had it not been for the fact that virtually every aspect of the OPPA’s governance failed, much of what has happened may not have happened and it may not have been necessary for four members of staff to take their concerns to the police,” Hansell wrote.

Among the most important changes to the organization will be reforms to its accounting, expense reporting and financial oversight, and the creation of a new anonymous and confidential whistleblower policy.
That has become “the most pressing” change for the OPPA to make now, said Lewis — a whistleblower policy that makes clear that there are protections for employees who come forward.

“When the folks who you think are doing things wrong are the biggest bosses in the organization,” Lewis said, “then obviously that’s a problem.”

Wendy Gillis can be reached at wgillis@thestar.ca

http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2015/ ... fraud.html
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