Toronto cop re-arrested, 35 more charges laid in anti-corruption investigation into tow truck industry
TORONTO -- Additional charges have been laid against a Toronto police officer and several others following an ongoing investigation into the city’s notorious tow truck industry.
The investigation, dubbed Project Overhaul, began in August 2019 and identified the alleged theft of police radios for use by several tow truck employees.
In June, investigators announced the seizure of a stolen encrypted police radio and charged a police officer and 10 other people with a total of 50 criminal offences.
The group was allegedly operating out of 13, 22 and 32 Divisions and using the radios to facilitate their business interests, investigators said at the time.
“The transmissions were broadcasted to other tow truck drivers for a fee through the use of an internet-based app,” Supt. Dominic Sinopoli said on June 22.
Police said they believed that 47-year-old Const. Ronald Joseph was the officer responsible for the theft of an encrypted radio, which was later cloned and put back into circulation within the Toronto Police Service.
Joseph was charged with theft over $5,000 and breach of trust.
He was suspended with pay as per the terms of the Police Services Act.
In a news release issued Friday, police said that Joseph had been re-arrested as a result of their investigation and is now facing eight new charges, including forgery, four counts of fraud over $5,000 and two counts of public mischief.
Kevin Lima, 28, of Barrie was also re-arrested and is facing several further charges.
It is believed that Joseph and Lima, as well as 11 other suspects named, carried out fraudulent insurance claims for “staged collisions,” police said.
“The fake collisions would then be reported to fraudulently claim on insurance for money. It alleged several false claims were made from April 2018 to May 2020.”
Controversy and criminality have clouded Toronto’s tow truck industry for the better part of the last two years. Officials say an ongoing turf-war between competing businesses has seen at least one murder and a number of arsons.
In May of last year, police across the Greater Toronto Area laid some 200 charges, including first-degree murder, against members of “several organized crime groups working within the towing industry.”`
With files from CTV News Toronto’s Kayla Goodfield