3 OPP officers charged, others suspended amid towing industr

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 officer pleads guilty of diverting half a million dollar

Postby Thomas » Mon Jun 27, 2022 1:28 pm

OPP officer pleads guilty of diverting half a million dollars in business to private company

If you haven't been following the violent saga of Toronto's tow truck turf wars, the story is definitely worth a deep dive, with all the makings of a Netflix series: Streetside fist fights, arson, shootouts and even murder.

Also part of the drama is a heavy dose of police misconduct, it's been revealed, with one officer just sentenced for his role in showing preferential treatment to certain players in the game.

Ontario Provincial Police Constable Bindo Showan admitted in court earlier this month that he helped two companies make upwards of $500,000 in revenue by calling them specifically in cases of vehicle impounds after traffic offenses rather than letting the driver choose or contacting "the first available truck," as he was supposed to do per the force's policy.

Adding more intrigue to the tale is the fact that the companies the officer partnered with are owned by one man, Sutheshkumar Sithambarpillay, who actually starred in a Discovery Canada reality TV show Heavy Rescue: 401.

"The fact that this was a highly competitive industry rife with problems should have resulted in the police behaving with scrupulous care. rather than being part of the solution, however, Mr. Showan became part of the problem," the judge overseeing the officer's case wrote.

"To make matters worse, he did so in the face of specific and repeated warnings not to show favouritism to any tow truck companies."

Showan, who is 59, was slapped with a suspended sentence in court yesterday, for which he will do time outside of custody. He is also being suspended with pay and will be facing further punitive action at work, up to potentially being fired.

Three other members of the OPP are being similarly investigated, while hundreds of charges have been laid in relation to the industry corruption.

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OPP officer sentenced for steering $500,000 in business to t

Postby Thomas » Mon Jun 27, 2022 1:30 pm

OPP officer sentenced for steering $500,000 in business to tow truck operator featured on reality TV

Const. Bindo Showan, 59, pleaded guilty on June 7 to one count of breach of trust for steering business to two companies owned by Sutheshkumar Sithambarpillay, who has been regularly featured on “Heavy Rescue: 401.”

An OPP officer with an “exemplary” service record received a suspended sentence Thursday after admitting he broke the law by steering at least $500,000 worth of business to two Toronto tow truck companies owned by a man featured on a reality TV show.

Superior Court Justice Gillian Roberts’s decision shines a light on the cut-throat practices within the GTA’s violence-plagued towing industry, and on the favouritism shown by some officers who, as public servants, are prohibited from giving preferential treatment to any person or entity.

Const. Bindo Showan, 59, pleaded guilty on June 7 to one count of breach of trust. The Crown did not proceed on a charge that he corruptly accepted a benefit.

The defence argued the absence of personal gain made the offence less serious. The judge disagreed. While the Crown had not proven Showan personally benefited, “it does not mean that the defence has proved there was no personal gain. There is simply no evidence before me one way or the other.”

Three other OPP police officers are still facing related charges, as is Sutheshkumar Sithambarpillay, the owner of the towing companies that received $500,000 in towing revenue with Showan’s help.

Sithambarpillay has been regularly featured on the Discovery Canada reality TV show “Heavy Rescue: 401,” where he has appeared in 21 episodes under the name Steve Pillay. The show profiles the work of several heavy towing companies in the Toronto area.

Contacted by the Star Thursday, Sithambarpillay’s lawyer, Kally Ho, said she had no comment as his matter is still pending. He is due in court next month.

The allegations against Sithambarpillay have not been proven in court.

The charges stemmed from a 2020 Toronto police investigation into alleged corruption among highway cops, focusing on tows in the GTA connected to stunt driving offences under Section 172 of the Highway Traffic Act.

Drivers caught going 50 km/h over the posted speed limit must have their vehicle impounded for seven days. “The fee for such impounds can often yield upwards of $2,000 per vehicle to the tow company,” according to the agreed facts read in court on June 7.

OPP policy dictates that drivers choose which towing company to contact. Though that can be overridden by an officer, they are supposed to contact “the first available” truck.

An analysis of Showan’s four-year history of stunt driving enforcement with the the OPP’s 407 detachment between 2016 and 2020 showed a majority of his tows were conducted by either Steve’s Towing or CCC Towing, two of the larger towing companies in the GTA, the prosecutor said.

Both companies are owned by Sithambarpillay.

At Showan’s guilty plea, the prosecution presented an agreed statement of facts that referred to surveillance and wiretaps showing Showan and Sithambarpillay were in regular communication, both on the phone and in person.

There were several examples. On April 5, 2020, Maple Towing was first on the scene to tow a vehicle to Quebec — until Showan and a Steve’s Towing flatbed truck showed up and took it away.

“You got a good one — Montreal is a good one,” Showan said to Sithambarpillay afterwards in an intercepted call, according to the agreed statement of facts. Later that day, on another call between the two men, Sithambarpillay said, “let’s see what we can do tomorrow.” Showan responded, “for sure.”

Wiretaps also captured Showan offering to get takeout food for Sithambarpillay, and an OPP surveillance team then saw the two men meet roadside, according to the agreed statement of facts. About an hour later, Showan stopped a blue Porsche. “About eight minutes later, a tow truck from Steve’s Towing attended the scene and removed the Porsche,” the agreed statement said.

Court heard that some tow truck drivers follow OPP officers from the detachment to enforcement locations and position their trucks at known “fishing holes” where they knew police speed traps would be set up, despite officers being told not to allow this.

“The fact that this was a highly competitive industry rife with problems should have resulted in the police behaving with scrupulous care,” the judge wrote in her reasons for sentence released Thursday. “Rather than being part of the solution, however, Mr. Showan became part of the problem. To make matters worse, he did so in the face of specific and repeated warnings not to show favouritism to any tow truck companies.”

Showan had been a police officer since 2001. He joined the OPP’s 407 detachment in 2016, where 34 officers are assigned.

While his lawyer, Philip Wright, asked for a conditional discharge, the judge accepted Crown attorney Jason Nicol’s argument that Showan should receive a suspended sentence, which he will serve out of custody so long as he fulfils his sentencing conditions, including not to contact Sithambarpillay.

The judge noted that Showan has suffered greatly since the charges were laid. He is “embarrassed and ashamed” and has apologized profusely to colleagues, family, friends, the court and all the people who have trusted him.

He remains suspended with pay, and faces disciplinary proceedings and could lose his job.

Judge Roberts added that while his distinguished policing career, attested to in reviews and letters, is “impressive,” his position as a police officer, and the powers that come with it, mean that he must be held to a higher standard of accountability.

“If our best officers can be corrupted, that strikes me as a reason to emphasize the importance of general deterrence and denunciation.”

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OPP officer contributed to Toronto's notorious tow truck ind

Postby Thomas » Tue Jul 05, 2022 3:19 pm

OPP officer contributed to Toronto's notorious tow truck industry, court hears

A decorated OPP officer became part of the problem of the GTA’s troubled tow truck industry when he played favourites and sent more than half a million dollars in tows to a tow truck company also featured in a reality TV show, according to a Superior Court justice.

Const. Bindo Showan pleaded guilty to breach of trust and was given a one year suspended sentence last week in a case that gives insight into one aspect of corruption in the tow truck industry that pulled in even an experienced officer with excellent reviews.

“The fact that this was a highly competitive industry rife with problems should have resulted in the police behaving with scrupulous care. Rather than being part of the solution, however, Mr. Showan became part of the problem,” Justice Gillian Roberts said in her address on Thursday.

But as for whether Showan himself got a kickback, Roberts said she didn’t have evidence either way.

“No evidence of personal gain means the Crown has not proved an aggravating factor. It does not mean that the defense has proved there was no personal gain,” she said.

Showan didn’t have anything to say when approached by a CTV News reporter outside Superior Court in Toronto.

Showan admitted in court that instead of following the policy of the first available tow truck, he sent more than $500,000 worth of towing jobs to businesses run by Steve Pillay, whose full name is Sutheshkumar Sitthambarpillay.

Pillay was a fixture on the reality show “Heavy Rescue 401” on Discovery, which, like CTV News, is a division of Bell Media. He also gave interviews to CTV News Toronto for several towing-related stories.

Of all the tows in a two-year period referred by Showan, about 78 per cent of them were sent to companies controlled by Pillay, Roberts said. It added up to about 250 tows, or more than two a week.

The pair communicated regularly over the phone, with their conversations intercepted by the OPP. Officers also tailed Showan, the judge said, but that surveillance was interrupted when Const. Showan — himself experienced in undercover work — noticed the officers, and he stopped referring tows.

Officers charged him in 2021 with breach of trust and accepting a benefit — one of four OPP officers charged at the time.

This is hardly the only set of crimes related to the GTA’s troubled tow truck industry. Last year court heard how the Toronto Police’s Project Kraken cracked down on tow trucks involved in violent heists.

There have also been arsons, murders, and one guilty plea last week relating to obstruction of justice — covering up evidence in a shooting at a Scarborough gas bar, where video shows two tow trucks waiting nearby, their engines on.

A Toronto Police officer, Ronald Joseph, is accused of collecting kickbacks for collision tip-offs, staging a collision, and sharing a police radio — charges which have not been proven in court.

OPP officers were reminded not to play favourites several times, Roberts said Thursday. Since Showan’s arrest, the OPP has also introduced new checks and balances for its officers.

And on 400-series highways in the GTA, there are now new rules where only certain companies will be allowed to operate.

https://www.iheartradio.ca/ctv-news-con ... 1.18104721

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