Hamilton cop was trying to 'look dirty' for drug dealer, corruption trial hears
Suspended Hamilton police officer Craig Ruthowsky told a close friend that he was helping a drug dealer in order to win his trust so that he'd flip on a larger drug trafficker, court heard Tuesday, as the corruption trial into Ruthowsky's conduct continues.
Sgt. James Paterson, who referred to himself in testimony as Ruthowsky's "best friend," returned to the witness box Tuesday morning in Superior Court in Toronto for the second day.
"Craig Ruthowsky advised me that the dealer was dangling a bigger fish in front of him that he wanted to get, this major importer … officer Ruthowsky had said 'I was trying to make myself look like a dirty cop so that [the dealer] will trust me more, and he'd give up the bigger fish,'" Paterson said in court.
Ruthowsky, 44, has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, attempting to obstruct justice, trafficking cocaine, criminal breach of trust, and conspiring to traffic marijuana.
The Crown contends that Ruthowsky was working with the criminals he was supposed to be investigating, in exchange for a monthly payout of $20,000.
Paterson testified that he visited Ruthowsky's home in Ancaster after the detective constable with Hamilton police had been suspended, to talk about the grounds under which he had been removed from duty.
The most glaring, Paterson said, was that Ruthowsky went to a private chemical company to get a chemical tested.
The Crown said in its opening statement that Ruthowsky, at the request of the dealer who was paying him, took a mystery cutting agent for cocaine to a private lab to be chemically analyzed.
Cutting agents are mixed in with cocaine to increase its volume, and therefore, maximize profits. Armed with an identification of exactly what the chemical was, the dealer was able to buy that cutting agent wholesale, which let him turn a much greater profit.
"He explained to me that [the dealer] was providing him information on someone else, who I was aware of, who was a very prominent drug importer in Ontario, in Canada … he said he was trying to build [the dealer's] trust so he would roll over on that second person," Paterson said.
"He said he thought that if he could convince [the dealer] he'd do those sorts of things for him, that [the dealer] would trust him more and give him more information."
The dealer's name is protected under a court-ordered publication ban.
Police officers almost never take substances to be analyzed at private labs, court heard. Usually, Paterson said, an officer would send a chemical like that to be tested at Health Canada, which runs an independent, publicly-funded lab.
"That's not within the norm of the policies and procedures of the police service," Paterson said.