Det. Mark Underwood said the man used stolen credit card information to order products online, then waited outside victims’ homes.
Impersonating a Canada Post delivery person was one ruse used by a fraudster who allegedly ran a GTA-wide, online shopping scam using stolen credit card information to buy about $40,000 worth of electronics.
The man made 14 separate orders which included laptops, digital cameras and in one instance a drone from Best Buy, using a copy of victims’ credit cards, then had the goods shipped to the cardholders’ homes.
Sometimes the man would lay in wait for the delivery person and sign for the package himself. On other occasions, “… they would wait for the package to be delivered and actually knock on the door and claim that they were with Canada Post and that the package had been delivered in error, and they were there to retrieve the package,” said Det. Mark Underwood.
Underwood said police are unclear exactly how the man got the victims’ credit card information. When the fraudster did however, Underwood said, he would go to a post office and using the ID, redirect a victim’s mail.
Next stop would be the victim’s bank — where the man would ask for a replacement card, again with the stolen ID.
“And then with the card, or the data from the card at that point, they’d go online and just make a purchase,” Underwood said.
When the package arrived at a victim’s house, the man would be waiting to intercept the delivery-person — and sign for the package using the fake ID. Best Buy ships only to the address that matches the credit card holder’s address, Underwood said, so the man needed to send it to the victims’ homes before picking it up.
Victims lived across the GTA — from Burlington to Whitby and as far north as Minden. Police made the connection between all 14 cases when two victims came forward with footage of the suspect at their doors.
Halton Regional Police, along with officers from Durham, York and Peel, eventually tracked down and arrested a suspect after a four-month investigation. Canada Post also co-operated with officers, police said.
The Canada Post ruse happened in four of the 14 cases of fraud, Underwood said, adding that the suspect didn’t use a Canada Post uniform or fake employee ID.
In one of those cases, Underwood said, a woman called a victim’s house to let them know an “employee” would be arriving to retrieve a package. Police don’t know who she is and are trying to find her — and anyone else who may have helped with the scam.
Petar Gyoshev, 24, is facing 54 charges relating to fraud under $5,000, unauthorized use of credit card data, mail theft and possession of a counterfeit mark. He appeared in Milton Provincial Court on Tuesday.
Justice Copeland ruled “I find that the impact of the breach on the defendant’s Charter-protected interests was significant, and weighs in favour of exclusion of the evidence”.
A Mississauga man has been found not guilty of driving with excess blood alcohol because a judge found police violated his rights by withholding his turban for more than three hours after his arrest.
Not only did the officers involved not comply with Peel Regional Police’s own policy on individuals wearing turbans in custody, but one officer wasn’t even aware of it, wrote Ontario Court Justice Jill Copeland in a decision released this week.
Sardul Singh, an observant Sikh, was arrested following a RIDE spot check in December 2014. As he was being placed in the back of a police cruiser, his turban accidentally fell off.
But it was not returned to him for several hours, including while he was giving breath samples at the Brampton police division, leaving him feeling vulnerable, the judge wrote.
Copeland threw out the breath samples and dismissed the case, finding Singh’s right to freedom of religion had been infringed.
“There is no dispute that all of the officers involved in the detention of Mr. Singh were aware of the religious significance of his turban,” she wrote.
“Based on the evidence before the court, I find that the officers involved in Mr. Singh’s arrest and detention acted in a careless manner in relation to Mr. Singh’s right to freedom of religion in relation to the turban . . .I find Mr. Singh not guilty. The charge is dismissed.”
A Peel police spokesman said the force is aware of the incident and will be reviewing Copeland’s decision and investigating the conduct of the involved officers. Sgt. Josh Colley said officers are responsible for reviewing all directives and updates annually.
“This was a case where a message had to be sent that care has to taken with respect to religious rights,” said Singh’s lawyer, David Locke.
The move followed a deputation at a June board meeting by Ranjit Khatkur, chair of the Peel Coalition Against Racialized Discrimination, who said Peel police must acknowledge racism and criticized Chief Jennifer Evans, saying she failed to properly address complaints about inequity.
“So what do we need to do to step this up so that we actually have faith in the police? And this is where, in the end, it comes down very simply to how seriously they take this,” Khatkur told the Star after reading Copeland’s decision.
“If we’re going to preserve the public confidence, then they need to take diversity seriously and the consequences of not taking it seriously become a lack of faith in the police force, in the chief, and in the implementation of their policies.”
The region is home to a diverse population, including a large Sikh community.
Peel Regional Police’s policy states that when a Sikh wearing a turban is in custody, the turban should only be removed for the purposes of a search and then returned, or if there are safety concerns, Copeland wrote, noting there was no search or safety concerns in Singh’s case.
“In terms of the Peel Regional Police service as a whole, it is commendable that the service has created a policy to proactively address this issue,” she wrote.
“Unfortunately, in this case there was a significant problem with implementation of the policy by the officers involved, and with knowledge of the policy on the part of at least one officer.”
It was the understanding of the breathalyzer technician at the police division that individuals under arrest were not allowed to wear turbans while in custody, the judge found.
While Singh never inquired about his turban while detained, Copeland said he should never have been put in the position of having to ask in the first place.
Serious consequences such as dismissing a criminal case is sometimes the only way to change improper police conduct, said lawyer Daniel Brown, who was not involved in Singh’s case.
“This particular judge recognized that it wasn’t just a single isolated officer who didn’t respect the policy, but that it seemed to be more of a systemic problem if all the officers involved either weren’t aware of the policy or didn’t adhere to it,” he said.
“Where systemic problems arise, it makes the constitutional violations more serious.”
It never ceases to amaze, the bosses who think their female employees are there to be handled like some ripe peach. But she wouldn’t stand for it.
And now a bar owner’s drunken groping of his head server has cost him and his company almost $30,000.
“I am standing for all people who have been sexually harassed or assaulted,” explains De Anna Granés, 33. “I’m speaking up for those who were too afraid come forward.”
Granés worked at Houston Avenue Bar & Grill in Barrie to save for her nursing education. She was good at her job and enjoyed working there. That changed dramatically on Feb. 1, 2014.
A decision from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario released this month details that night.
Co-owner Rajneesh Dutta was sitting at the bar at the start of her 5 p.m. shift and announced that he was going to try every drink on the cocktail menu, Granés told the tribunal. She gently advised her boss that it wasn’t a great idea. As the night progressed, she realized he hadn’t taken her advice.
Dutta was slurring his words, swaying and incoherent, she testified. But worse, he became increasingly “all over her.”
“My back was turned,” she testified, “(he) came up beside me, put his arm on my arm and grabbed my right boob – (it) wasn’t a graze”.
While Granés was using the computer, she told the tribunal that Dutta came up behind her and started pawing her arms, thighs and stomach. She moved to another computer. He followed her around telling her, “At the end of the night we are going to have our own party” and “I want to take you home.”
Granes asked him to stop.
While serving a large party in the lounge, he came up behind her. “He was feeling me, his hands on my thighs, (I) felt embarrassed because I saw people watching,” she testified. “I pushed him aside and walked away.”
He still didn’t get the message.
When Granés went to drop off dishes in the back of the restaurant, she testified that Dutta grabbed her, whispered in her ear and tried to kiss her. She told him to stop.
At the end of the night, when it looked like he was going to drive drunk, she told the tribunal that she grabbed his keys. Dutta pushed her against the wall and grabbed her wrist, she said, while she repeatedly told him he was hurting her. The struggle ended when she threw the keys to a colleague behind him.
Another waitress confirmed to the tribunal Dutta “was drunk, and touchy feely – he put his arms around me, caused me discomfort” but she didn’t think it was a big deal.
“I’ve had a lot worse happen to me,” she later told Granés in a text.
Which is sad in itself.
Granés, for her part, could not brush it off. She was so distraught that she couldn’t drive home and when she returned to work the next day, she had a panic attack and had to leave. She told her father about what happened and they called Barrie Police.
But it was her word against his and no charges were laid. According to the officer who testified at the hearing, Dutta told him he was ashamed of being drunk and unprofessional and pledged not to drink at work again.
Dutta, however, insisted the cop was lying, nothing happened and “he did not have a drop of alcohol” that night. Adjudicator Josée Bouchard said she didn’t find him credible.
When Granés returned to work on Feb. 10, Dutta and the other co-owner asked to speak to her. “We just want to move forward,” she said they told her, “so we want you to put on that pretty little smile of yours and do your job.”
Boors to the end.
Granés quit and after much consideration launched her human rights complaint.
“I’m taking back what’s mine. I’m taking back control of My body and My basic human rights to make My own decisions regarding my body,” she explained in an email. “I’m taking back My happiness.”
And good for her. The tribunal awarded her $20,000 in compensation for injury to her dignity, feelings and self-respect and $9,440 for lost wages. “When I saw the decision,” she said, “I was at peace.”
As for the restaurant, it closed its doors more than a year ago.
People in crisis like Sammy Yatim are dying not because cops don’t follow the rules, but because they do, says Paul Dubé’s report, which makes 22 recommendations to change that.
Nabil Yatim believes that if police officers in Ontario received more training on how to use words instead of weapons, his son Sammy would be alive today.
“I’m almost positive he would be,” Yatim told reporters at Queen’s Park Wednesday, after the release of a much-anticipated investigation by Ontario’s ombudsman into how the provincial government trains and directs police on use of force.
Sammy Yatim’s high-profile death in July 2013 at the hands of Toronto police Const. James Forcillo prompted ombudsman Paul Dubé’s investigation. Since Yatim’s death, 19 more people have been shot dead by police in Ontario. In many cases, they were people in crisis, Dubé writes in his report.
In a biting indictment of police training, Dubé’s report concludes that people in crisis are dying at the hands of police not because officers aren’t following their training. “It’s because they are.”
His 90-page report makes 22 recommendations, ranging from ramping up training to calling on the province to create a regulation requiring police to use de-escalation techniques in all possible conflict situations — before resorting to force. The report calls for that regulation to be in place by this time next year.
“The issue of how police are trained to handle situations of conflict with people in crisis is not a matter of academic debate. It is literally a matter of life and death, and one that has been neglected in this province for too long,” Dubé said at a news conference.
Dubé, who officially took over from André Marin in April, said the need to improve police training is “urgent.”
More importantly, the kind of training officers receive at the college needs to change, Dubé found.
“The majority of their training focuses on exerting authority and establishing control over armed or hostile subjects, principally by drawing their weapons and yelling commands,” he writes in the report.
Among Dubé’s 22 recommendations for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services:
Revise edged-weapons training for recruits to stress de-escalation techniques as the first option wherever possible when facing a person with something like a knife.
Expand the Ontario Police College curriculum to offer more training on mental illness.
Institute a new use-of-force model “that is easy to understand and clearly identifies de-escalation options.”
“Formally and publicly” respond to all recommendations that come out of coroner’s inquests into police-involved deaths, and keep a complete record of actions taken in response.
In addition to Yatim’s death, the report references other cases of fatal police shootings of people crisis in Ontario — the “human toll” — including the deaths of Evan Jones (Brantford police in 2010), Michael Eligon (Toronto police in 2012) and Steve Mesic (Hamilton police in 2013).
Speaking to reporters after the report was issued, David Orazietti, the new minister responsible, said he accepted all of the recommendations. “I recognize that things need to change,” he said.
Asked if a new rule requiring police to use de-escalation techniques will be written into the Police Services Act, Orazietti said he was “absolutely committed” to that.
But when asked, twice, what sort of teeth would be built into the regulations — how officers could be disciplined if they did not use such techniques — Dubé did not elaborate.
“We’re not talking about enforcing; we’re talking about arming officers with the skills they need,” he said.
Camille Quenneville, chief executive officer of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Ontario Division, said the buy-in from the province is promising.
“The other piece of this story, of course, is whether there is a will to do something, and I believe there is,” she said in an interview Wednesday.
Jennifer French, the NDP’s Community Safety critic, said Orazietti’s vow to accept the recommendations is different than acting on them.
“This is a government that has chosen not to act before; we’re hoping that this is going to be a different case,” she said.
Julian Falconer, the lawyer representing members of Yatim’s family in a civil suit, also pointed to decades of inaction on the issue of police use of force.
Dubé’s report is an addition to “an already large body of work that recognizes that police use-of-force training in Ontario is an anachronistic exercise.” This “constant re-statement of the obvious” is becoming embarrassing, he said in an email.
“That this Ombudsman had the courage to restate the tragic reality is not a bad thing but I wonder when the political and police leadership will show the courage to actually institute change.”
The ombudman’s office conducted 95 interviews, including with academics, psychiatrists and psychologists, family members of people killed in interactions with police, and employees at the Ontario Police College.
The report was produced with the help of two retired police chiefs — Vern White, former Ottawa police chief, and Mike Boyd, former chief of the Edmonton police — who acted as special advisors.
But Margaret Parsons, executive director of the African Canadian Legal Clinic, wonders why her organization was not consulted. She was disappointed the report failed to acknowledge that race is too often a factor in police use of force.
“How could you talk about police use of force, and in particular deadly force, without wanting to address race and racism?” she said.
Yatim was shot eight times by Forcillo while alone on a downtown Toronto streetcar, after wielding a small knife and exposing himself to passengers. The shooting was captured on bystander video, which was quickly disseminated, prompting public outrage.
Forcillo, 33, was charged and ultimately found not guilty of second-degree murder for the first three shots that killed Yatim, but guilty of attempted murder for the second volley of six shots fired six seconds after the initial three. Superior Court Justice Edward Then is now deciding Forcillo’s sentence, to be pronounced in late July.
The ombudsman’s investigation was one of three systemic reviews of police use of force launched in the wake of Yatim’s death.
Just weeks after Yatim’s death, then Toronto police chief Bill Blair initiated an independent review of use of force within his own police service, tapping retired Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci to conduct the recommendation.
One year later, Iacobucci released a comprehensive report making 84 recommendations, including increased training, changes to hiring practices, and a shift in the workplace culture. Toronto police said last year they had implemented, in full or in part, 79 of the 84 recommendations.
Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, said he welcomed “any recommendation that will improve the outcome of interactions between officers and citizens.”
The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), a provincial agency that reviews police complaints, also launched a systemic review of police use of force following Yatim’s death — only the second systemic review launched by the OIPRD since its inception in 2009.
Rosemary Parker, spokesperson for the OIPRD, said in an email that the agency expects to release the first of two parts of the review this fall, and the second in early 2017.