George Duke pleaded guilty to theft, breach of trust, drug and firearms charges.
A veteran OPP officer, who was nabbed in an undercover police sting, was sentenced Thursday to 21 months in jail on theft, breach of trust, drug and firearms charges.
Justice Kimberly Moore of the Ontario Court of Justice recommended that George Duke, 55, serve his time in the St. Lawrence Valley Correctional and Treatment Centre in Brockville, where he could be treated for depression and post traumatic stress disorder.
Duke pleaded guilty to the six charges earlier this year. He stole $11,500 from undercover officers posing as drug-money couriers, possessed drugs including methamphetamine, marijuana and crack cocaine, and carelessly stored a rifle and ammunition at his Maitland home. Some of the drugs – marijuana and crack – were discovered in his duty bag in his locker at a local OPP detachment.
Duke, who joined the OPP at the age of 32 after spending 16 years in the Canadian Forces, was caught by undercover cops on Oct. 30, 2015.
After months of investigating Duke, the police set up a sting on Highway 401, posing as illicit money couriers.
The two officers rented a car and packed $112,000 cash in a gym bag in the trunk. The driver carried $1,500 in his pocket and another $1,500 was stashed in an envelope behind the visor.
The undercover cops then sped along the 401 at 173 km/hr until Duke pulled them over for speeding.
Duke found the money, arrested and released the driver and took the cash back to the station where he turned most of it over.
But the constable took a bundle of $10,000 from the gym bag and kept the envelope of $1,500.
When OPP searched his house, they found the $10,000 hidden in the rafters of his basement and Duke carried $840 from the envelope. The officers found two baggies of meth and 57 oxycodone pills in Duke’s bedroom. Small bags of pot were discovered around the house. In Duke’s locker at the OPP detachment, investigators found pot, hash and crack cocaine. At his house, an improperly stored rifle was in his bedroom and ammo was found around the house.
Moore noted that Duke insists he didn’t take drugs himself and that he wasn’t an addict, although he didn’t explain the drugs.
“This of course leaves one wondering why he had all of the drugs that were seized from many locations in his home and his locker if his intention was not to consume them,” Moore said.
Of the six charges against Duke, Moore said she regarded the breach of trust and the thefts as the most serious.
Duke showed a “complete disregard” for his oath of office and he brought disrespect on the OPP and administration of justice, Moore said. And even though Duke acted alone, there will be some people “who speculate on the honesty and integrity of other police officers and of the judicial system itself as the result of Mr. Duke’s actions,” she said in her ruling.
“The harm caused to the public and also the potential harm to the reputation of the Ontario Provincial Police is not disputed,” Moore said.
The judge also noted that Duke has a criminal record. Two months before the Oct. 30, 2015 sting, the burly Duke assaulted a 71-year-old man during a traffic stop and tightened the handcuffs so tight that the man’s wrists bled. He was given a fine two years later.
If you total up the maximum sentences on the six charges against Duke, they would amount to 24 years in prison.
But Moore said there are some factors in Duke’s favour.
Duke pleaded guilty to the charges; he was suffering from mental health issues for many years; he was apologetic; and he was regarded as a hard-working and dedicated officer before the crimes, Moore said.
As well, former cops don’t do well in prison and they have to serve much of their time in protective custody.
Since his charges, Duke has been suspended on full salary of more than $100,000 a year.
Moore referred to that in her sentence:
“There are, I suspect, some members of the public who are dismayed that Mr. Duke has been suspended with pay since these charges were laid almost three years ago. While these feelings are understandable, it is also important to note that until a finding of guilt was made, Mr. Duke was presumed to be innocent. Once that finding was made, there were several very important steps that had to take place in order to prepare for a sentencing of this nature.”https://www.recorder.ca/news/local-news ... hs-in-jail