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Defence lawyer alleges Toronto officers diverted 7 kilos of meth into her client’s car
Why would a drug dealer leave seven kilos of methamphetamine, worth $300,000, sitting on the back seat of his car overnight in a downtown Toronto parking lot when he knows he’s being followed by police?
The question is one a defence lawyer is asking Superior Court Justice Michael Dambrot to consider when he decides whether her client, Velle Chanmany, 32, is guilty of possessing the drug for the purpose of trafficking.
“This was a man who was so paranoid of being followed that he ate, or destroyed, a phone chip so police could not get his contacts,” Leora Shemesh said Monday during closing arguments.
“He knew he was being followed and he knew the vehicles associated with the police,” she said.
The defence is alleging that Toronto police officers – Rick Shank, Glenn Asselin and possibly others – “diverted” seven kilos of meth from an earlier seizure into Chanmany’s vehicle on May 8, 2008.
The officers were working on a covert, joint-forces operation called Project Blackhawk and were frustrated that after two years, and numerous attempts, they were unable to get any evidence that Chanmany was selling illegal narcotics. He testified during the trial he sold cocaine but not meth.
A week before Asselin reported finding the meth inside Chanmany’s car, Shank stopped two men in a van leaving a suspected meth lab, Shemesh said. Shank discovered 52 kilos of meth in the rear, which he loaded into the trunk of his vehicle.
“He then lets the two men go. No one is charged. And no one is ever found again,” Shemesh told court.
Dambrot, who is hearing the case without a jury, said he found it “very puzzling” that Shank would find such a large amount of drugs, then “casually let them go.”
But he also asked, “where’s the logic” in Shank instantly dreaming up a scheme of using the drugs to frame Chanmany, and wondered if it wasn’t illogical that Chanmany left $4,000 in his car that night if he feared police might break in and take it.
“All the logic doesn’t run one way,” the judge said. Police reported seizing only $1,800, though Chanmany is overheard on wiretaps complaining that police had taken $4,650 from a black satchel hidden beneath the driver’s seat.
During her closing submissions, Crown attorney Sarah Egan told Dambrot the Crown doesn’t have to disprove the “irrational or fanciful” conspiracy theory.
“The Crown is not required to disprove conjecture,” she told court.
Allegations that Shank “secreted” away seven kilos “is unsupported by any evidence” and there is no proof of police misconduct, she said. Egan said the meth seized by Shank was later handled by the clandestine lab unit officers.
Egan added the traffic stop may seem “unusual” but “in the context of this investigation there were numerous stops conducted like this,” she told court.
Dambrot will release his ruling April 5.