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Peel officer's drug conviction leads to perjury charge against superior

Less than four months after a Peel police officer was convicted of keeping fake cocaine inside a personal watercraft in his garage, a fellow officer who testified against him has been charged with perjury.

The latest chapter in the bizarre case unfolded Thursday, when veteran officer Warren Williams was arrested and accused of lying under oath at the trial of Constable Sheldon Cook.

The saga started in 2005, when RCMP officers intercepted more than a hundred bricks of cocaine in Peru and replaced them with flour in hopes of nabbing the drug trafficker who was to pick them up in Canada.

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On the night of Nov. 15 of that year, the fake drugs arrived at Pearson International Airport, hidden in boxes of fruit. A courier sent to fetch it became suspicious of the shipment's contents and drove it to a Mississauga police station, where several officers unloaded it. Not realizing the white powder was part of an RCMP sting, they apparently destroyed some of it.

A tracking device hidden in the fake cocaine led police to 15 bricks in Constable Cook's garage in Cambridge, Ont. An additional eight were found in a dumpster.

Constable Cook was convicted in June of attempted possession for the purpose of trafficking and several other charges. Both Constable Williams and Sergeant Marty Rykhoff, who were among the officers unloading the shipment that night, testified for the prosecution. Sgt. Rykhoff is still being investigated by the RCMP. Both men are suspended with pay.

Constable Cook's lawyer unsuccessfully argued that his client was instructed to keep the ersatz drugs in his garage by his superiors.

While police declined to say exactly what part of Constable Williams's testimony was in question, they emphasized the charges relate solely to the trial and the RCMP investigation into his fellow officer, and that he is not accused of any wrongdoing in the initial seizure.

"It had nothing to do with the drugs themselves," said Sergeant Zahir Shah. "I can't get into the specific allegations because that's before the courts."

Constable Cook's conviction still stands, as the judge in the case made it explicit he would not re-open the trial, regardless of whether other officers lied. However, his lawyer Patrick Ducharme said the conviction might be appealed.

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"There will likely be an appeal of the decision. If that does occur, [the perjury charges]may be a part of that," he said.

With one officer convicted on drug charges and another facing perjury allegations, police were quick to reassure the public.

"I want to assure the residents of Peel that the men and women of Peel Regional Police remain committed to providing you with the high level of service that you deserve and expect from us," said Deputy Chief Paul Tetzlaff in a prepared statement. "Rest assured, our service delivery will continue to be professional and transparent."

Constable Williams, who has been with the force for 20 years, is charged with one count of perjury, plus three counts each of obstruction of justice and breach of trust. He is scheduled to appear in court next month.

Constable Cook is set to be sentenced later this month.

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About the Author
Washington correspondent

Adrian Morrow covers U.S. politics from Washington, D.C. Previously he was The Globe's Ontario politics reporter. He's covered news, crime and sports for The Globe since 2010. He won the National Newspaper Award for politics reporting in 2016. More

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