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Former Thunder Bay police Chief Sylvie Hauth, sits beside Holly Walbourne, the now-former in-house lawyer for the Thunder Bay Police Service, on Aug. 1, 2019.David Jackson/The Globe and Mail

A former in-house lawyer for the Thunder Bay Police Service has been charged in a continuing criminal investigation of the service by the Ontario Provincial Police.

The lawyer, Holly Walbourne, who resigned from the service in March, 2023, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with three counts of obstructing justice, one count of obstructing a public or peace officer, and one count of breach of trust by a public officer.

Ms. Walbourne, 37, is the second member of the service to be charged in the investigation, which began after Ontario’s Attorney-General requested in late 2021 that provincial police look into allegations of misconduct against the Thunder Bay force’s senior ranks, including Ms. Walbourne.

Her lawyers, Samaria Secter and Frank Addario, said in a statement that they are “shocked and disappointed that the OPP decided to charge her.”

“We look forward to seeing the OPP’s evidence and to defending the case in court,” they added.

The Thunder Bay Police Service and its board have been under intense scrutiny in recent years. Several outside investigations have found evidence of systemic racism among officers, incompetent police work and failure to rebuild broken trust with the local community, particularly among Indigenous people.

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The substance of the criminal allegations against Ms. Walbourne was not immediately clear on Tuesday, but she has been named in previous complaints against senior Thunder Bay police personnel.

In 2020, two veteran officers filed complaints to their superiors alleging that another officer, Staff Sergeant Mike Dimini, had committed various improper acts related to a service call in November that year, including illegal entry, wrongful arrest and falsifying a report.

In subsequent complaints to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, the veteran officers said they had faced retaliation from Sylvie Hauth, who was the force’s police chief at the time, and also from Ms. Walbourne.

The Ontario Civilian Police Commission launched its own investigation of the force in 2022. That probe cleared Ms. Walbourne of allegations that she had colluded with Ms. Hauth and Deputy Chief Ryan Hughes in their responses to the commission leading up to its investigation.

The commission did lay charges of deceit and discreditable conduct against Ms. Hauth, but she resigned before a hearing could be held. Her departure effectively cancelled those charges, which had been brought under Ontario’s Police Services Act.

Ms. Walbourne announced her resignation from the service three months later. The service said in a statement on Tuesday that Ms. Walbourne continued to work on retainer after her resignation, to support Thunder Bay’s transition to a new police chief, but that she is no longer providing the force with services in any capacity.

Staff Sgt. Dimini was charged in December with two counts of assault, one count of breach of trust and one count of obstruction of justice, related to incidents in 2014, 2016 and 2022. One of the alleged assaults involved an Indigenous woman. Staff Sgt. Dimini was put on paid leave.

OPP media relations manager Staff Sergeant Rob Simpson said he couldn’t comment on any connection between the charges against Ms. Walbourne and those against Staff Sgt. Dimini, because the investigation is still active.

According to Ontario’s Sunshine List, which discloses the salaries of public servants who make $100,000 or more, Ms. Walbourne’s 2022 salary at the Thunder Bay force was $186,136.20.

Ms. Walbourne was released from custody and is scheduled to appear in court on May 10.

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