Judge refuses to dismiss drug charges after cop accused of stuffing money in sock
A B.C. judge has refused to drop charges against an alleged drug trafficker, despite a local police officer being caught on camera stuffing cash from the accused’s home into his sock.
Although the Abbotsford police officer is currently under investigation by the RCMP, it was not enough for charges against the accused to be dismissed, ruled Judge Edna Ritchie.
"It is clearly in the interest of society to have the charges against Mr. MacDonald dealt with," she wrote in her decision.
Brian MacDonald, from B.C.’s Fraser Valley, is accused of several counts of drug possession for the purpose of trafficking.
During a search of his home by Abbotsford police last fall, an officer was seen on a surveillance camera picking up money and stuffing it into his sock.
Taking the stand in April, the officer - identified in court documents as Const. Sovio - admitted to touching the cash, but said he had done so as a joke and had put it back later.
"He advises that he was in the middle of doing a practical joke," Sgt. Judy Bird, spokesperson for Abbotsford police, told CTV News at the time.
Sovio testified that he had intended on pulling the money out of his sock and presenting it to another officer as "the real jackpot." He also insisted that he did not bring the money with him.
MacDonald’s lawyer, Ken Beatch, called for his client’s case to be thrown out, claiming the officer's conduct threatens to jeopardize the public's trust in police.
“We place a lot of trust in our police officers,” said Beatch. "The real issue was the integrity of the system."
Judge Ritchie said the Crown was not relying on evidence seized from the home for its case and the accused’s right to a fair trial had not been jeopardized.
She added that the charges, involving the dangerous opioids fentanyl and carfentanil, are serious enough that it was in the public’s interest to move forward with the case.
The RCMP’s investigation into Sovio’s conduct is currently underway, with the officer removed from operational duties for the time being.
None of the allegations have been tested in court.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Maria Weisgarber