Cocaine Dealer Tells Cop’s Trial: ‘He’d Always Helped Me Out’

Craig Ruthowsky, left, has pleaded not guilty to charges including breach of trust, drug trafficking and conspiracy to commit and indictable offence.

Ontario – A cocaine dealer who allegedly initiated a “pay for protection” scheme with a Hamilton police officer testified Wednesday the detective constable was someone he could rely on in a pinch.

“He’d always helped me out in the past,” said the man, who cannot be identified due to a court-ordered provisional publication ban.

“There were several times that the police were after me and he told me that they were.”

That officer is Craig Ruthowsky, a former member of the Hamilton Police Service guns and gangs unit who has pleaded not guilty to bribery of officers, obstruct justice, breach of trust, drug trafficking and conspiracy to commit and indictable offence.

The prosecution is alleging Ruthowsky, who is suspended from the job, supplied the coke dealer, and others, with “sensitive police information” to help them evade detection in return for cash payments of $20,000 a month.

Ruthowsky’s lawyer, Greg Lafontaine, has portrayed his client as a top-performing cop who maybe bent some rules but was skilled at working sources to get drugs and guns off Hamilton streets.

Wednesday was the first time jurors in a downtown Toronto courtroom set eyes on the Hamilton-based dealer.

The dealer testified Ruthowsky shared with him departmental gossip about the “fighting and bickering” between the Hamilton police drug and gang units, and warned him “to be careful” about dealing with informants.

He also said the officer, whom he repeatedly referred to as Craig, told him the weekends were “the best time to do stuff.”

“What kind of stuff,” Crown attorney John Pollard asked.

“Criminal stuff, drug trafficking, whatever,” the dealer replied.

The Crown also played for the jury a conversation between Ruthowsky and the dealer that was captured in a 2015 Toronto police wiretap project. The conversation demonstrated the pair’s familiarity with each other. Ruthowsky, for example, discussed taking a cruise with his family.

The dealer called Ruthowsky to ask him if the police could have taken two kilos of cocaine from a car parked at Sherway Gardens in Toronto’s west end. The driver of the car was a long-time associate who had scored the drugs for the dealer’s partner.

Ruthowsky, in the call, said yes, the police would do that in order to seize contraband without blowing the cover of the police investigation. He also said it likely wasn’t the Hamilton Police Service but part of a Toronto police investigation.

But Ruthowsky also told the dealer he was “99 per cent certain” it was an inside job, and suggested giving the driver a sort of integrity test.

“Did you run that play?’” Pollard asked the dealer.

“No,” he replied, adding he was convinced the driver had nothing to do with it. The drugs were, in fact, removed by Toronto police officers.

The trial continues Thursday.


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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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