Ottawa police officers accused of selling car-crash info to tow-truck drivers

Ottawa police officers accused of selling car-crash info to tow-truck drivers

OTTAWA — The Ottawa Police Service was shaken Thursday after three of its officers were arrested and charged with allegedly selling information on car crashes to tow-truck drivers.

The charges against constables Hussein Assaad, Kevin Putinski and Andrew Chronopoulos were announced by the RCMP following a 10-month investigation, which was first sparked by a tip to Ottawa police last summer.

Each officer faces one count of breach of trust and secret commissions. Assaad is also accused of obstruction of justice, providing unauthorized access to confidential police databases and conspiracy to commit break and enter and theft while Putinski faces one count of fraud under $5,000.

Three Ottawa residents — Jason Ishraki, Veronika Ishraki and Marwan Sablani — have also been arrested and charged in connection with the investigation, which the Mounties say is ongoing. Search warrants have been obtained for five residences and an Ottawa Police Service worksite.

Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly said the city force was first tipped off that an officer was engaged in “alleged criminal behaviour related to corrupt practice” in June, at which point it asked the RCMP’s anti-corruption unit to launch an investigation.

“The charges that the RCMP laid today are very serious,” Sloly said in a statement. “These allegations against three of our members will likely shake the trust and confidence that OPS members have worked long and hard to earn with the public.”

Sloly went on to defend the rest of his officers, insisting the charges “do not reflect on their overall integrity” of the Ottawa force, adding: “Every member of the OPS will be troubled by this news as we hold our oath of office and our organization’s values in the highest regard.”

Sloly, who took over as head of the Ottawa Police Service in October, nonetheless announced several new measures aimed at increasing accountability and ethical standards within the force. He said he is assigning a superintendent to lead a new “respect, ethics and values” unit and creating new posts to improve morale and professionalism among officers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 23, 2020.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

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