What appears to have started out as a simple investigation of a fraud at Bombardier Inc. has broadened to become a sweeping probe with allegations that a senior Ontario Provincial Police officer, a Toronto Crown attorney and accused criminals were in cahoots to fix charges.
The allegations are contained in a public document called an information filed by OPP in Brampton court.
Earlier this week, The Globe and Mail has learned, OPP officers executed a search warrant upon Crown offices at the College Park courts, and Brendan Crawley, a spokesman for the Ontario Attorney-General, confirmed last night that the province has brought in an out-of-province special prosecutor to handle the case.
He is the well-known and well-regarded criminal defence lawyer Richard Peck, of Vancouver, who successfully defended Ajaib Singh Bagri in the Air India bombing trial.
Charged with nine counts ranging from fraud to obstructing justice to breach of trust is veteran OPP Sergeant Michael Rutigliano, 49, who served as manager of the force's "court case management" for the Toronto area. Sgt. Rutigliano has an office at the Old City Hall courts downtown.
The breach of trust charge relates to "his duties as an OPP officer" and alleges that he was "dishonestly abusing his position to gain corrupt advantage for his associates charged with offences."
Named in one count as an "unindicted co-conspirator," which means he is isn't charged but is alleged to have had some involvement, is Toronto prosecutor Domenic Basile.
Mr. Basile rotates through several Toronto courthouses, including College Park.
In what it seems was the original investigation, Sgt. Rutigliano, a business associate and two former employees of Bombardier are alleged to have conspired to defraud the aircraft maker in a multimillion dollar fraud.
But The Globe has learned that during this probe, police came upon what is the more stunning series of alleged offences - that Sgt. Rutigliano allegedly helped one man, Peter Mavroudis, "avoid prosecution in Ontario" and that he "conspired and agreed with Frank D'Angelo," the former beer magnate, and Mr. Basile to obstruct or defeat "the course of justice in the sexual assault prosecution" against Mr. D'Angelo.
That latter allegation is curious, because Mr. D'Angelo, who was acquitted just last month of sexually assaulting a friend's daughter, had a trial by judge alone, and was prosecuted by Crowns from the North York office.
Though Ontario Superior Court Judge John Hamilton found him not guilty, he said that he found the evidence of both Mr. D'Angelo and his accuser credible.
Mr. Mavroudis is a 50-year-old former resident of Georgetown, Ont., who just last January pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud over $5,000 and was sentenced to four years in jail.
According to newspaper reports at the time, he admitted taking $370,000 from ticket buyers who thought they were buying premium seats for Toronto Maple Leafs games.
Arrested on May 3, 2007, he was released on bail and scheduled for a court appearance last November, but never showed up. A Canada-wide warrant was issued for his arrest, and he was eventually tracked down in Vancouver on Dec. 7.
Sgt. Rutigliano is accused of helping him avoid prosecution in Ontario during that very same period: between Sept. 1 of 2007 and Dec. 8 of last year.
Named in a so-called "no-contact" order are Sgt. Rutigliano's co-accused and a handful of other prosecutors and defence lawyers.
Dan Kirby, who is representing Sgt. Rutigliano - in custody pending his bail hearing tomorrow - and the two former Bombardier employees who were released on bail yesterday, said Sgt. Rutigliano intends to "plead not guilty" to all charges. He expressed concern that names "are being bandied about in relation" to some of the charges, and added, "We believe there's no merit to that."