A Niagara Regional Police officer who pleaded guilty in the United States in a cross-border steroid smuggling case is now allowed to remain on the force and collect his pay, pending a sentencing hearing next year.
At a police disciplinary hearing Tuesday in St. Catharines, Ont., Const. Geoff Purdie appeared briefly but declined to enter a plea to internal police discipline charges of discreditable conduct and insubordination that ultimately could cost him his job.
Purdie pleaded guilty on Oct. 31 in a Buffalo court to the smuggling of thousands of dollars worth of anabolic steroids. He admitted to repeatedly driving across the Canada-U.S. border during the fall of 2011, picking up multiple packages of steroids, and then flashing his badge as he drove back into Canada past Customs officials. He has been suspended, collecting pay since his initial arrest in Buffalo in April.
The Niagara police disciplinary tribunal's prosecutor, Insp. Scott McLean, agreed to let Purdie remain on suspension collecting his salary until his criminal sentencing in Buffalo on Feb. 28, 2013, when Purdie faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a potential $500,000 fine.
"We are working within the guidelines of the Police Act," McLean told CBC News when asked why the service would continue to keep Purdie on the payroll given his guilty plea in the U.S.
Ontario's Police Services Act allows a police chief to suspend an officer with pay until the suspension is lifted or the proceedings against the officer are concluded.
McLean said that Niagara Police will not proceed, at least for now, with a full-blown disciplinary hearing and is instead awaiting the sentencing in the U.S., acknowledging that the police service could move quickly to fire Purdie if he is sentenced to prison and is unable to report for duty.
A second officer, Scott Heron, failed to appear at Tuesday's disciplinary proceeding, for what his legal counsel would only say was "a personal reason."
Heron faces internal discipline after he, Casey Langelaan, a recently retired officer, and civilian Bernie Pollino, all from the border community of Fort Erie, Ont., were charged criminally with running a cross-border cheese-smuggling ring that police alleged moved hundreds of thousands of dollars in cheap U.S mozzarella into Canada and resold it to pizzerias across the Niagara region.
Related on HuffPost:
Earlier this year, Colombia police <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/19/drug-smuggling-pigeon_n_811044.html" target="_hplink">captured</a> a carrier pigeon trying to fly into a Bucarmanga jail with marijuana and cocaine paste strapped to its back. Carrying a package with 40 grams of marijuana and 5 grams of a paste containing cocaine, the bird -- which police believe had been trained by inmates or accomplices -- appeared to be unable to successfully clear the prison walls.
In 2009, Spanish police<a href="http://articles.cnn.com/2009-03-06/justice/spain.leg.cast_1_cocaine-police-leg?_s=PM:CRIME" target="_hplink"> arrested</a> a man arriving at Barcelona's airport from Chile after determining that the cast on his fractured left leg was made of cocaine, CNN reported. The 66-year-old man had an actual fracture of two bones below the knee, but the police suspect that he, or accomplices, may have intentionally fractured it, so that the cocaine cast could be applied.
Perhaps they should call it a case of "Merry-Juana." A German man <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/08/marijuana-christmas-tree-_n_793946.html" target="_hplink">faced</a> drug possession charges after local police discovered a six-foot-tall marijuana plant in his home that had been decorated with twinkling Christmas lights in late 2010.
In 2006, CNN <a href="http://articles.cnn.com/2006-02-01/world/drug.pups_1_heroin-seizures-puppies-dea-spokesman-rusty-payne?_s=PM:WORLD" target="_hplink">reported</a> that a two-year investigation into a Colombian heroin ring netted more than 65 pounds of drugs, resulted in the arrests of more than 20 people and saved the lives of some drug-smuggling Labrador retrievers. Ten wayward pups were found during a raid on a Colombian farm in 2005, and six of them were carrying more than 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) of liquid heroin in their stomachs.
In 2009, the Mexican navy <a href="http://articles.cnn.com/2009-06-17/world/mexico.drug.sharks_1_mexican-navy-cocaine-frozen?_s=PM:WORLD" target="_hplink">smelled</a> something fishy the southeastern port of Progreso, and their intuition paid off. When the inspectors zeroed in on a shipment of sharks, they found black bags containing rectangular packets filled with cocaine inside the frozen fish.
In 2006, a 25-year-old Australian woman was <a href="http://uneasysilence.com/archive/2006/06/6833/" target="_hplink">charged</a> with attempting to smuggle heroin into the country a week after she was found to be carrying 329 drug-filled condoms in her stomach. The woman was intercepted on suspicion she was carrying drugs internally by customs officers at Sydney airport as she came off a flight from Singapore.
In 2008, former England cricket player Chris Lewis was <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/09/chris-lewis-cocaine-drugs" target="_hplink">charged</a> with attempting to smuggle cocaine with a street value of more than 200,000 pounds into Britain. The 40-year-old was arrested along with an alleged accomplice on Dec. 8, 2008 after border control officers at London's Gatwick airport found four kilograms (nine pounds) of the illegal drug in liquid form in fruit tins in a baggage that had arrived from the Caribbean island of St Lucia.
In 2006, Texas police <a href="http://www.clickorlando.com/news/9514444/detail.html" target="_hplink">reportedly</a> found about 168 grams of cocaine inside a can of Pringles. The cocaine was ingeniously made to look like the actual Pringles crisps.
In 1993, drug enforcement agents at Miami's airport<a href="http://www.elistmania.com/juice/10_creative_drug_smuggling_schemes/" target="_hplink"> reportedly</a> seized nearly 36 kilograms of cocaine wrapped in condoms and stuffed in Boa constrictors. The snakes had been imported from South America, and were still alive when they were found. There were over 312 snakes about 1.5 meters in length. The cocaine was actually found by mistake when one of the snakes appeared to have an abnormal bulge.