TTC officers convicted of writing fraudulent tickets deserve jail time: Crown
Crown Attorney says former transit enforcement officers should serve time for their "knowing breach of trust" in writing false tickets to homeless people.
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The Crown is seeking jail time for three former TTC enforcement officers convicted of writing fraudulent tickets to homeless people as part of a scheme to skip out on work.
At an Ontario Court of Justice hearing at the College Park courthouse Tuesday, Crown Attorney Derek Ishak asked the judge to sentence the three men to time behind bars for their “repeated, flagrant, and knowing breach of trust.”
He argued jail time was necessary to send a message to the public and other similar officers that the former transit cops’ behaviour wouldn’t be tolerated. He said TTC officers were akin to police and therefore their violation of public trust was particularly serious.
The defendants’ lawyers countered that the men had no criminal records and prior to the fake ticket scheme had exemplary records at the TTC. They also argued that TTC officers, who had been temporarily stripped of their special constable status and associated powers at the time of the trio’s offences, shouldn’t be considered the same as police. The lawyers asked the judge to hand down conditional sentences with no jail time, or to allow the men to serve intermittent sentences on weekends.
Justice S. Ford Clements is expected to sentence the men at a hearing scheduled for Feb. 21.
The court case stems from a scandal that erupted in early 2013, when the TTC fired eight of its then 40 enforcement officers following a joint investigation with the Toronto police.
The transit agency became suspicious after discovering irregular ticketing patterns, and came to believe that the officers were writing fake tickets to make it appear they were working when they were not. Many of the tickets were falsely issued in the names of homeless people for the offences of loitering and solicitation, which carry a $195 fine.
The investigation, which involved using GPS trackers hidden in TTC vehicles and security camera footage, determined the former officers were shopping or visiting friends on some of the days they supposedly issued the tickets.
Because the homeless people had no knowledge the tickets had been written in their names, some were convicted in absentia for not paying fines when they failed to appear in court.
The three officers were found guilty last June of obstructing justice and fabricating evidence. Two other officers who were charged were acquitted.
Those convicted were Michael Schmidt, 49, Tony Catic, 50, and John Posthumus, 48.
Ishak recommended the judge sentence Schmidt, who was a sergeant at the TTC and described as the ringleader, to 12 months in jail. He asked for six to nine months for Catic, who often served as acting sergeant, and three months for Posthumus. The Crown said it would not oppose an intermittent sentence for Posthumus, who was convicted of writing the fewest fake tickets.
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