‘Idiot’ cop guilty for nick­ing pot-laced snack

Choco­late bar taken in pot-shop raid leads to string of con­se­quences for of­fi­cer, col­leagues

The London Free Press - - REGION - 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.

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 in­ci­dent.

Jus­tice Mary Misener 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 . . . He was just a com­plete idiot.”

Misener added that the fact that Dominelli had taken a mar­i­jua­nain­fused 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 plain­clothes, left to get pizza for the squad as they were go­ing through the pot shop, court heard. While walk­ing out, Dominelli pock­eted sev­eral cannabis-oil-in­fused choco­late bars.

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, court heard.

Af­ter the raid was con­cluded around 11 p.m., Dominelli and Young were 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, but the al­le­ga­tions have not been proven in court.

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

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

Dominelli thought he was go­ing to die, court heard. He asked his part­ner to ra­dio for help, but she re­fused. Dominelli even­tu­ally grabbed the ra­dio from her, ran up the street and called for help.

“Send an am­bu­lance,” a breath­less Dominelli tells the dis­patcher on the call, 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 seven peo­ple were charged in the pot-shop raids, but those charges were dropped due to Dominelli’s ac­tions.

“To my wife and chil­dren, I turned our lives up­side down,” Dominelli wrote in doc­u­ments filed with court. “I messed up, I re­ally did.”

The Crown is propos­ing a con­di­tional sen­tence for Dominelli to be served in the com­mu­nity while the de­fence is ar­gu­ing for a con­di­tional dis­charge.

The judge will de­cide Dominelli’s sen­tence at a later date.

POST­MEDIA NEWS

Vit­to­rio Dominelli pleaded guilty to at­tempt­ing to ob­struct jus­tice.

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