Toronto Police Officer on Paid Suspension For 11 Years Could Finally Be Fired

A Toronto police officer who has been collecting a public service paycheque during a roughly 11-year suspension will learn his fate today.

Const. Ioan-Florin Floria was arrested in 2007, accused by his employer of blocking a kidnapping investigation and using his position to aid a criminal organization.

Floria was cleared in 2012 on six criminal charges. Last year, he was found guilty of four counts of professional misconduct under the Police Services Act: insubordination, breach of confidence and two counts of discreditable conduct.

He told CBC News he’s anxious going into Monday’s sentencing.

I’m nervous about going in front of them.
– Const . Ioan-Florin Floria
“I can’t sleep at night,” Floria, 45, said in a phone interview. “I’m nervous about the whole system; I’m nervous about going in front of them and listening and … me being put down.”

Floria has remained on paid suspension throughout the criminal and disciplinary proceedings. He earned $102,527.87 plus benefits in 2017, according to Toronto Police Services Board data.

An Ontario law requires suspended officers continue to be paid in most cases. The province passed new policing legislation earlier this year that would allow unpaid suspensions in more circumstances, but it has yet to be implemented.

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A hearing officer for the Toronto Police Service Disciplinary Hearings Office will decide which of several possible penalties will be applied. The prosecution has asked that Floria be fired; the officer’s lawyer says he should be demoted and possibly lose some pay.

Floria said he plans to appeal if he’s dismissed.

Disciplinary hearing
Floria’s disciplinary hearing heard testimony over several months in 2016. Among those testifying was “S.T.,” who claimed he was kidnapped outside a Toronto gym in 2005.

The man, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, said his captors beat and tortured him. He said they released him after claiming his boss in the drug trade had paid a ransom.

S.T. said he reported his kidnapping to Floria, a traffic cop and someone he considered a friend. S.T. told the tribunal that Floria promised to investigate, and met with him, a friend, and his brother several times, even providing S.T’s brother surveillance images that he gathered during his purported investigation.

Floria, left, is pictured alongside two men identified during a police discipline hearing as Stefan Karpacs, centre, and Armand Alexander, both linked to the drug trade, according to court and police documents. (Toronto Police Service)
“I told him exactly what had happened,” S.T. said at the tribunal, speaking through a Romanian interpreter and appearing via videolink.

At Floria’s criminal trial, the Crown suggested he conducted a sham investigation into S.T.’s complaint that was intended to protect two of his friends, whom the officer suspected might be involved in the kidnapping. The police disciplinary tribunal focused on questions of workplace procedure and conduct using evidence presented at the criminal trial.

“Constable Floria pretended to embark on a secretive and ultimately inadequate investigation,” police prosecutor Sharon Wilmot said as she outlined the prosecution’s case in April 2016.

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S.T. told the tribunal that Floria asked him if he thought Stefan Karpacs and Armand Alexander might be involved. The men were friends of Floria’s who were among those arrested in 2007 police drug raids and later convicted on drug trafficking charges.

S.T.’s purported kidnapping has never been solved.

‘Unconscionable’ behaviour
Wilmot’s fellow police prosecutor argued Floria should be fired.

“Constable Floria’s misconduct is absolutely unconscionable,” Toronto Police Insp. Peter Callaghan said at a hearing this year.

The tribunal concluded that Floria learned of S.T.’s kidnapping but did not report it. It also found that Floria made unauthorized police database queries for information on several people, including himself and Karpacs. Floria also shared confidential police information with S.T.’s brother, who has also admitted to working in the drug trade.

The tribunal also found Floria learned of another kidnapping through Armand Alexander but did not report it. Floria later reported it when, by sheer coincidence, he was asked to help investigate the crime.

‘Biggest mistake of my life’
Floria has admitted to wrongdoing but not criminal behaviour.

In a 2007 phone call intercepted by police, Floria told a friend that S.T. was “beaten up,” and said his employer might penalize him for neglect of duty.

“I didn’t report it,” Floria said, according to a transcript of the call.

Floria also admitted in a 2007 police memo that he’d investigated the “possible assault/kidnapping” of S.T., and claimed that surveillance footage showed “no indication of fighting or struggle.”

At trial, Floria acknowledged he breached police procedure, and said he regretted not filing a report on what S.T. told him.

“That’s the biggest mistake of my life,” he said.