Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Veteran police officer sidelined

On leave during probe involving Project Sideshow

  • Print
Winnipeg police Staff Sgt. Rob Harding, who is not the officer placed on administrative leave, spoke at a news conference earlier this year that showed some of the items seized during Project Sideshow.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Winnipeg police Staff Sgt. Rob Harding, who is not the officer placed on administrative leave, spoke at a news conference earlier this year that showed some of the items seized during Project Sideshow. Photo Store

A veteran Winnipeg police officer is under a legal microscope for his involvement in a high-profile gang-and-drug operation, the Free Press has learned.

The member of the organized-crime unit was recently placed on administrative leave with pay while the professional standards unit (PSU) continues an internal investigation surrounding the two-year Project Sideshow case.

No criminal charges have been laid. Sources say the file is complex and currently being reviewed by senior justice officials. No timeline for a decision has been established.

It's not clear what triggered the PSU investigation, such as a specific complaint or some other factor. Winnipeg police have refused official comment on the matter. They cited the fact Sideshow "is currently before the courts" -- even though none of the questions submitted by the Free Press surrounded the specific operation but were instead focused solely on the officer and his current status.

George Van Mackelberg, the vice-president of the Winnipeg Police Association, said Thursday his office is awaiting further information. He said it's not unusual in "sensitive" matters to send an officer home with pay while an internal review is ongoing.

"It's by no means a judgment of guilt," said Van Mackelberg. "It's in everyone's best interest to do a thorough investigation."

Sideshow is one of the largest, most elaborate undercover organized-crime investigations ever undertaken by Winnipeg police. Police arrested a total of 14 people earlier this year. All of them remain before the courts facing dozens of charges.

Investigators relied heavily on the use of judicially authorized warrants, which netted more than 300,000 intercepted communications and paved the way to breaking up alleged drug cells in Manitoba, Ontario and British Columbia.

In total, police documented 92 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of $5 million, 3.5 kg of methamphetamine with a street value of $192,000, one kg of ecstasy with a street value of $20,000 and more than $4.3 million in cash believed to be from proceeds of drug sales.

The actual amounts of drugs and cash exchanged are believed to far exceed the amounts observed, police said. Officers were only able to seize a small amount of what they saw as they couldn't risk jeopardizing the investigation.

Justice sources say defence lawyers representing Sideshow accused are now waiting to learn more about the internal police investigation to determine if it might impact how they proceed.

This isn't the first controversy surrounding this operation. Last month, the Free Press documented how questions were emerging about the evolution and execution of the investigation.

At the heart of the matter is how a longtime senior federal prosecutor who became a Court of Queen's Bench justice ended up overseeing tactics police used during the investigation.

Court records show Justice Chris Mainella authorized six different legal applications in Sideshow that allowed police to monitor the inner workings of their criminal targets. He began hearing these applications only three months after he left the federal prosecution service and was appointed to the bench.

All of these applications were overseen by prosecutor Judy Kliewer, a former colleague of Mainella's who was the assigned Crown "agent" in Sideshow. One of the main targets of Sideshow was a man Mainella and Kliewer had previously prosecuted together in a similar drug-related case.

Ian Mahon, the chief federal prosecutor with the Manitoba region of the Prosecution Service of Canada, told the Free Press defence counsel involved in Sideshow has made inquiries about Mainella's role in overseeing the applications.

www.mikeoncrime.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 23, 2014 A3

History

Updated on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 12:45 PM CDT: Clarifies Winnipeg police Staff Sgt. Rob Harding is not the officer placed on administrative leave in the photo cutline.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Humans of the Holidays

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local- A large osprey lands in it's nest in a hydro pole on Hyw 59  near the Hillside Beach turnoff turn off. Osprey a large narrow winged hawk which can have a wingspan of over 54 inches are making a incredible recovery since pesticide use of the 1950's and  1960's- For the last two decades these fish hawks have been reappearing in the Lake Winnipeg area- Aug 03, 2005
  • May 22, 2012 - 120522  - Westminster United Church photographed Tuesday May 22, 2012 .  John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What's your take on the Jets so far this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google