The Toronto Police Service says it’s suspended several officers as it continues to investigate alleged corruption in the regional tow trucking industry.
Spokeswoman Meaghan Gray declined to say how many officers are involved, but says they were placed on paid leave after undisclosed information surfaced in the course of the investigation.
That probe has already resulted in criminal charges against one officer, Const. Ronald Joseph, who is accused of stealing encrypted police radios that were used to help tow truck operators secure lucrative jobs.
Joseph is one of 11 people charged in the Toronto probe, while a similar investigation from the neighbouring York Regional Police has netted dozens of charges against at least 20 people.
Gray says the suspended officers are not currently facing any charges either under either the Criminal Code or Ontario’s Police Services Act.
The provincial government recently appointed a task force to draft a new regulatory framework for the towing industry, citing a recent wave of criminal activity as part of the need for tighter rules.
York police have alleged that a lucrative turf war has erupted along stretches of major provincial highways in and around Toronto, resulting in charges ranging from arson to murder. None of those charges have yet been proven in court.
The force alleged multiple tow truck companies, all with ties to organized crime, have defrauded insurance companies with vehicles involved in real and staged collisions.
Police further allege that the companies would grossly inflate towing and repair bills and move cars from lot to lot to increase storage fees.
Body shops and car rental companies were in on the suspected schemes, police said, and would receive profitable cuts for themselves.
Gray said Toronto police would announce if any of the suspended officers wind up facing charges.
© The Canadian Press