Hal­ton sergeant charged af­ter probe into ev­i­dence tam­per­ing

Cop led unit that en­cour­aged residents to drop off pre­scrip­tion drugs


The for­mer head of Hal­ton Re­gion’s po­lice drug squad, who once boasted of ma­jor busts and en­cour­aged residents to drop off their un­used pre­scrip­tion painkillers so po­lice could prop­erly dis­pose of them, has been ar­rested and ac­cused of us­ing his po­si­tion to steal drug ex­hibits stored in an ev­i­dence vault.

Brad Murray, a staff sergeant with 16 years on the Hal­ton force, was charged Sun­day with ob­struc­tion of jus­tice and two counts each of theft un­der $5,000 and breach of trust fol­low­ing a sev­en­month in­ter­nal probe and ex­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion by Toronto po­lice.

The probe re­vealed that more than 30 ex­hibits from a se­ries of court cases had been tam­pered with. In all in­stances, the af­fected ex­hibits were pre­scrip­tion painkillers such as OxyCon­tin.

“In all like­li­hood, all of these cases will have to be stayed or with­drawn, which is a shame,” Hal­ton po­lice Chief Stephen Tan­ner said in an in­ter­view Sun­day. “But that’s the cost of what this person did.”

Murray has been sus­pended with pay. The al­le­ga­tions against him have not been proven in court.

The vet­eran of­fi­cer was al­ready fac­ing in­ter­nal dis­ci­pline for an in­ci­dent in which he al­legedly ob­tained pre­scrip­tion painkillers from an of­fi­cer un­der his com­mand, Tan­ner said.

Murray has not re­sponded to nu­mer­ous re­quests for com­ment.

A Star in­ves­ti­ga­tion pre­vi­ously re­vealed that an in­ter­nal Hal­ton po­lice au­dit in Novem­ber found at least 36 ex­hibits whose pack­ag­ing had been com­pro­mised, throw­ing pros­e­cu­tions into jeop­ardy. A sum­mary of the find­ings in­di­cated the con­tents of the ex­hibits may have been com­pro­mised as well.

Tan­ner asked Toronto po­lice to con­duct an in­de­pen­dent crim­i­nal probe into the tam­pered ex­hibits.

“We rec­og­nize the im­pact such news brings to you, the peo­ple we serve, and to the rep­u­ta­tion of our ser­vice,” Tan­ner said in a re­lease on Sun­day. “It vi­o­lates pub­lic trust in the work we do and is an af­front to the Cana­dian jus­tice sys­tem as a whole. As such we are com­mit­ted to deal­ing with this is­sue trans­par­ently and thor­oughly.”

Murray was a mem­ber and su­per­vi­sor of Hal­ton’s drug and moral­ity unit from Jan­uary 2013 to May 2016, “dur­ing which time the crim­i­nal of­fences are al­leged to have oc­curred,” the re­lease stated.

As staff sergeant, Murray would have had a swipe card that al­lowed him ac­cess to the drug vault, Tan­ner told the Star. While it was pre­ferred that two of­fi­cers go into the vault to­gether, this might not al­ways have been the case, he said. Ac­cord­ing to sources with knowl­edge of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion who spoke to the Star, Murray was trans­ferred in mid-2016 to a su­per­vi­sory role in Mil­ton, where he over­saw a pla­toon of of­fi­cers. Tan­ner said Murray had pre­vi­ously re­quested the trans­fer.

He re­mained in that role un­til fall 2016, when he went on leave, sources said.

While com­mand­ing that pla­toon, Murray al­legedly re­ceived pre­scrip­tion painkillers from a ju­nior of­fi­cer, Tan­ner said. Hal­ton po­lice asked nearby Water­loo po­lice to in­ves­ti­gate the in­ci­dent to de­ter­mine whether there were grounds for a drug traf­fick­ing charge. Tan­ner said Water­loo de­tec­tives and a Crown pros­e­cu­tor de­ter­mined it did not war­rant charges and it be­came an in­ter­nal po­lice dis­ci­pline mat­ter.

Murray will also face in­ter­nal charges re­lated to the al­leged steal­ing of drugs from the ev­i­dence vault, and Tan­ner said “dis­missal is def­i­nitely one pos­si­ble out­come.”

Last year, Murray earned $140,000, ac­cord­ing to On­tario salary dis­clo­sures.

Murray’s ar­rest also raises ques­tions about a pro­gram he ran en­cour­ag­ing the pub­lic to drop off un­wanted med­i­ca­tions — in­clud­ing pre­scrip­tion painkillers — at lo­cal po­lice sta­tions and phar­ma­cies.

In 2013, as a de­tec­tive on the newly formed in­te­grated drug, gun and gang unit, he was the force’s pub­lic face an­nounc­ing the squad’s first ar­rests, where of­fi­cers seized three pounds of mar­i­juana and some co­caine.

“It won’t af­fect the sup­ply and de­mand. What it will do is put the word out that we’re here,” he said.

Murray later be­came the head of the drug and gang unit. He warned the pub­lic of the black mar­ket’s thirst for opi­ate-based pre­scrip­tion painkillers, and cham­pi­oned a pro­gram en­cour­ag­ing the pub­lic to dis­pose of their un­wanted and po­ten­tially harm­ful med­i­ca­tions at lo­cal phar­ma­cies or po­lice sta­tions.

Each month, the pro­gram col­lected roughly 80 pounds of medicine — ev­ery­thing from narcotics to blood pres­sure pills to herbal reme­dies — pre­vent­ing the drugs from be­ing flushed down the toi­let or end­ing up on the street.

“Most harm­ful drugs are found at home. Es­sen­tially, the (in­ad­ver­tent drug) traf­ficker is liv­ing at home,” Murray told the Burling­ton Post in 2015.

Phar­ma­cist Samir Pa­tel worked with Murray in the pro­gram, col­lect­ing cus­tomers’ un­wanted drugs at his phar­ma­cies.

“He would call me or text me, say, ‘Hey, how much do you have? Do you have a lot of stuff there?’ I’d say, ‘Yup, we have this much. If you want to come by it’s a good amount,’” Pa­tel said in an in­ter­view.

Pa­tel said he would oc­ca­sion­ally call Murray if some­one had dropped off a large sup­ply of pre­scrip­tion painkillers or “some­thing I was wor­ried about.”

When the drugs were ready for pickup, Pa­tel’s phar­macy staff would seal them with a tam­per-proof lid.

“As far as I was con­cerned, there was noth­ing un­be­com­ing,” Pa­tel said. “At the end of the day, the whole point was let’s get this off the street as much as pos­si­ble.”

The pro­gram with Hal­ton po­lice ended once Murray moved from the drug squad, said Pa­tel, though the phar­ma­cist con­tin­ues to dis­pose of un­wanted med­i­ca­tions.

Tan­ner said there is no cur­rent ev­i­dence sug­gest­ing any of the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal drugs col­lected by Murray or Hal­ton po­lice through the pro­gram have been mis­used or stolen.

“In hind­sight, I have con­cern that it is cer­tainly pos­si­ble,” he told the Star.

In a press re­lease, Hal­ton po­lice said it has im­ple­mented ad­di­tional mea­sures to pre­serve the in­tegrity of all seized drug ex­hibits.

Murray is sched­uled to ap­pear in a Mil­ton court June 27.

The ev­i­dence Hal­ton po­lice Staff Sgt. Brad Murray al­legedly com­pro­mised in­cluded some from court cases that may now be stayed or with­drawn, his chief says.


Brad Murray and phar­ma­cist Samir Pa­tel in 2015 dur­ing anti-drug cam­paign.

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