Cop who ate pot ev­i­dence called ‘idiot’ by judge

Pleads guilty to try­ing to ob­struct jus­tice

National Post (Latest Edition) - - CANADA - Liam Casey

TORONTO • A Toronto po­lice of­fi­cer who stole and ate a mar­i­juana-laced choco­late bar seized dur­ing a pot-shop raid was a “com­plete idiot” for tam­per­ing with ev­i­dence, a judge said Fri­day as the man pleaded guilty in the case.

Vit­to­rio Dominelli, a 36-year-old con­sta­ble who re­signed from the force this week, pleaded guilty to at­tempt­ing to ob­struct jus­tice in con­nec­tion with the Jan­uary in­ci­dent.

Jus­tice Mary Misener, who presided over the case, said Dominelli’s ac­tions were on the low end of the spec­trum when it came to ev­i­dence tam­per­ing, but were none­the­less sig­nif­i­cant.

“From the point of view of pub­lic in­ter­est, the im­pact is pro­found,” she said. “The con­duct here you can­not de­scribe as any­thing other than stupid.”

Misener added that the fact that Dominelli had taken a mar­i­juana-in­fused item was not the is­sue.

“He might have taken cough syrup or a pair of woolly com­fort­able socks that he wanted to try on his feet,” she said. “It’s in­ter­fer­ing with ev­i­dence.”

Dominelli, the son of a long­time Toronto of­fi­cer and a fa­ther of three, was part of a team that raided an il­le­gal mar­i­juana dis­pen­sary around 5 p.m. on Jan. 27, ac­cord­ing to an agreed state­ment of facts read out in court by Crown at­tor­ney Philip Perl­mut­ter.

The of­fi­cer, armed and dressed in plain clothes, agreed to go get pizza for the squad as they were go­ing through the pot shop, court heard. While walk­ing out of the store, Dominelli saw sev­eral cannabis-oil-in­fused choco­late bars, which he pock­eted.

He and his part­ner, Const. Jamie Young, went to a nearby pizza place where Dominelli be­gan to have sec­ond thoughts about tak­ing the choco­late bars, Perl­mut­ter said.

Dominelli told Young about his reser­va­tions and wanted to leave the bars at the pizza place but his part­ner dis­agreed with his idea, court heard.

Af­ter the raid was con­cluded around 11 p.m., Dominelli and Young were re-as­signed to con­duct sur­veil­lance on an af­ter-hours bar, court heard. Dominelli then spoke about the then loom­ing le­gal­iza­tion of recre­ational mar­i­juana and the pair chat­ted about how nei­ther had tried cannabis, court heard.

“He as­sumed it would be a mi­nor mel­low feel­ing,” Perl­mut­ter said, read­ing from the agreed state­ment of facts. “He did not think con­sum­ing a small amount would im­pair each of­fi­cer.”

The pair con­sumed all eight squares of one choco­late bar while on their sur­veil­lance mis­sion and be­came “se­ri­ously in­tox­i­cated,” court heard.

Young has been charged with at­tempt­ing to ob­struct jus­tice and breach of trust in con­nec­tion with the in­ci­dent, but the al­le­ga­tions against her have not been proven in court.

Dominelli said he ini­tially didn’t feel any­thing but af­ter about 20 min­utes, the ef­fects of the cannabis-in­fused choco­late hit him “like a ton of bricks,” court heard.

“He was sweat­ing heav­ily and be­lieved he was go­ing to pass out,” Perl­mut­ter told court.

Dominelli thought he was go­ing to die, court heard. He asked his part­ner to ra­dio for help, but she re­fused.

The of­fi­cer even­tu­ally grabbed the ra­dio from his part­ner, ran up the street and called for help.

“Send an am­bu­lance,” a breath­less Dominelli tells the dis­patcher on the call, which was played in court.

When ques­tioned by the dis­patcher, Dominelli is heard say­ing he’s go­ing to pass out.

“Are you in­jured? Did any­thing hap­pen?” the dis­patcher asks.

“I’m just light-headed,” Dominelli says.

When other of­fi­cers rushed to the scene one of them slipped on ice and suf­fered a se­vere head in­jury, court heard. That of­fi­cer still has “sig­nif­i­cant dif­fi­cul­ties with speech and vi­sion,” and re­mains off work 10 months later.

Court also heard that seven peo­ple were charged in the pot-shop raids, but those charges were dropped due to Dominelli’s ac­tions.

Peter Brauti, Dominelli’s lawyer, told court his client is re­morse­ful and ashamed.

“I would say it was an act of ut­ter stu­pid­ity, quite frankly,” Brauti said. “He has done ev­ery­thing he can to show re­morse and make repa­ra­tion for what he’s done.”

Dominelli of­fered to re­sign within weeks of the in­ci­dent, the lawyer said. He is also de­pressed, shakes when he speaks and cries when talk­ing about the in­ci­dent, Brauti said.

The Crown is propos­ing a con­di­tional sen­tence for Dominelli to be served in the com­mu­nity while the de­fence is ar­gu­ing for a con­di­tional dis­charge. A charge of breach of trust was with­drawn.


Mar­i­juana-laced choco­late bars are shown at a pot shop in Toronto dur­ing a raid in this ev­i­dence photo. Vit­to­rio Dominelli says he is ashamed of eat­ing parts of one bar on Jan. 27, be­com­ing “se­ri­ously in­tox­i­cated.”


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