Accused Toronto cops flagged years earlier

Aug. 31, 2009 at 10:57 AM

TORONTO, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Members of a notorious Toronto police squad were flagged for suspicious behavior years before corruption charges were brought, The Toronto Star reported Monday.

A senior member of the Montreal Police force complained in 1997 about the behavior of Central Field Command Drug Squad leader John Schertzer and Detective Constable Steve Correia, who were determined to gain access to a suspect's safety deposit box, the Star reported in an investigation conducted with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

The complaint came seven years before Schertzer and other members of the drug task force were charged with shaking down suspects in the biggest scandal to hit the Toronto police department. But the members of the now-disbanded squad denied they did anything wrong in the Montreal incident and never faced charges in connection with it.

The Star-CBC investigation comes as Canadian prosecutors were again trying to revive the case against the squad members. A judge dismissed obstruction of justrice, perjury, extortion and assault charges against the former detectives last year because the Crown took too long to bring the case to trial.

Schertzer, since retired, and Correia have denied any wrongdoing in the past and were unavailable for comment, the newspaper said.

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