Family asks OIPRD to investigate officer recorded making racist statements after arrest

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An Ontario police watchdog has been asked to look into a Peel police officer who accidentally recorded himself making racist statements to a Mississauga, Ont., man in his cruiser.

The family of Masood Masad filed a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) after they say he was the victim of a needless arrest.

The incident stems from a mid-November verbal altercation in a restaurant where Masad claims it was 20 minutes late with an order he was delivering for DoorDash.

Soon after the incident, Peel police Const. Bernard Trlaja called his house. Masad’s mother, who was skeptical of the call and thought it was from a scammer, told the officer to come to the house.

« That is what started the whole thing in a sense of his anger, » Masad said. « He was very upset that she would in his mind not co-operate with him on the phone. But he has to understand that had she known that he was a police officer 100 per cent, she would have answered all his questions. »

When Trlaja showed up in person, things soon escalated.​ Masad told the officer he was recording the interaction on his phone, and shortly after he was arrested.

Bashar Masad, left, and his son Masood Masad, right, are asking Ontario’s police watchdog to look into a Peel police officer who accidentally recorded himself making racist comments. (CBC)

Recording accidentally restarted

The officer placed the phone beside him in the front seat of the police car, unaware he was recording a video.

In it, Trlaja claimed Masad’s mother was « arrogant » and began to make racist comments. 

« This kid obviously doesn’t understand the rule or nature or culture of Canada, » he said. 

« OK, he wants to be violent and bring that violence with him, then he’s going to have to learn the way. » 

Masad’s father, Bashar, said he was shocked when he listened to the recording and added that his son has lived most of his life in Canada.

« My son came to Canada when he was six years old. He’s 25 now. He’s spent 19 years of his life in this country, » he said.

Masad says security camera footage shows the officer accidentally starting the recording. (Submitted by Masad family)

« He went to school, to college, to work in this country. So if you’re talking about any culture, he’s a Canadian. »

The family is demanding that the 18-year police veteran get extra training and deliver an apology.

Masad said when he listened to the recording, it seemed like the officer was trying to get a reaction out of him.

« When I heard it, even I’m surprised I managed to keep my cool because this guy’s going off. He’s being so disrespectful to my mother for no reason, » he said.

« Maybe because it was my first time being actually arrested, taken down, I was thinking to myself, ‘OK, stay calm. Don’t talk back.' »

All the charges against Masad have been dropped. And while his family has filed a complaint with the OIPRD, Peel police are also conducting their own internal investigation through professional standards. The family was told the investigation may take up to six months. 

Peel police say they have no update on the internal review other than to say during the investigation, Trlaja is suspended with pay. 

CBC News has seen a copy of the Masad family’s complaint to the OIPRD​, but the watchdog said it doesn’t comment about filed complaints.

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$250K investment mystery: Accountant admits in recorded call he doesn’t know where money is

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The daughter of a Kingston, Ont., senior who lost $250,000 after his trusted accountant encouraged him to invest in a « questionable » financial scheme says police did little to investigate when the suspected fraud was reported, despite all kinds of suspicious documents and the loss of the bulk of her father’s retirement savings.

« I approached the [Kingston] police with this evidence and said, ‘There’s something very wrong here, »‘ Diane McEwen-Loveys told Go Public. « Their response was that they couldn’t do anything. »

McEwen-Loveys with her father, Mendal McEwen, who is now suffering from dementia. (Photo submitted by Diane McEwen-Loveys)

A former senior RCMP investigator who now consults on white-collar crimes says McEwen-Loveys​’ experience isn’t unusual, adding police often have little financial crime expertise and few resources for such investigations.

« There is a limited pool of investigators with financial crimes experience, » says Greg Draper. 

Odd document

McEwen-Loveys says the financial nightmare began in 2016 when her father, Mendal McEwen, had to be placed in long-term care due to dementia. 

While going through his papers, she discovered a strange-looking « participation agreement » that her father had signed in 2008.

« Standard wording that’s required for that type of documentation was missing, » says McEwen-Loveys, who has a financial background. 

« It quickly became clear to me that something was very wrong. » 

Her father’s long-time accountant, Douglas Raymond of Kingston, had arranged an agreement with a financial company called New Dawn International — no mention of it can be found online. The document does not explain what type of company New Dawn is, or how McEwan’s money would be used.  

The agreement says New Dawn operates in « the Principality of Hutt River, » a small region in western Australia that claims to be an independent, sovereign state.

« What’s going through my mind is, ‘This can’t be a hoax,' » says McEwen-Loveys. « There’s gotta be some reality to this. »

She did a little digging and discovered that the Principality of Hutt River has its own self-declared prince, its own currency, its own stamps and passport — but none of that is recognized by any government.

McEwen invested $250,000 in 2008 and was promised a rate of return of 24 per cent a year, starting 60 days from the date of deposit.

Mendal McEwan committed $250,000 in this agreement brokered by his trusted accountant. (Submitted by Diane McEwen-Loveys)

McEwen-Loveys couldn’t find any paperwork on the agreement — no statements, no prospectus — so she’s not sure what the deal was all about, or what happened after her father handed over a large chunk of his retirement savings. 

She did find a record for a wire transfer for $250,000 her father made the same day he signed the agreement, moving money from his registered retirement fund, which resulted in a hefty tax bill.

But it’s not clear who the money was wired to, or where. Banks aren’t required to keep records for longer than seven years.

McEwen-Loveys also discovered two emails from her father to Raymond, in which he asks for some of the money supposedly resulting from his investment. 

In 2010, Raymond told his client in an email that « the cash flow is not positive at this point. » In a second email a year later, Raymond wrote: « We are still months away from turning this into a positive situation that can start paying out. »  

With suspicions growing, McEwen-Loveys contacted various securities regulators and confirmed that the investment was not registered in Ontario.

She also called the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario and learned that Raymond was no longer a registered accountant, and had not been registered when her father made the large withdrawal from his retirement savings.

She decided to call Raymond and record the call.

During the conversation, Raymond said he couldn’t discuss the investment with McEwen-Loveys because « it’s complex » and « complicated. » 

Listen to call with the accountant

Listen to accountant admit he doesn’t know the whereabouts of his client’s large investment. 4:21

He told her he couldn’t say where the money is now, because information about the investment « is not available. »

He cut the conversation short, saying, « I’m not going to continue the discussion at this point. »

Go Public wanted to speak further with Raymond, but he did not return calls or emails.

Turns to police

Unable to track down the $250,000, McEwen-Loveys turned to Kingston police. 

The case was reviewed by fraud investigators, who determined they couldn’t proceed with a criminal investigation.

In an email to McEwen-Loveys, a constable wrote that the investment scheme was « questionable to say the least, » but because McEwen’s father had dementia he could not be considered « a viable witness/victim. »

Greg Draper, a former RCMP fraud investigator turned forensic accountant, specializes in white-collar crime and says police often don’t have the mandate or resources to investigate complex fraud cases. (CBC)

McEwen-Loveys says investigators told her they didn’t listen to the recording of her call with Raymond, because they couldn’t open the audio file. 

« It’s very frustrating, » she says. « The only body that has any authority would be the police. And they were unwilling to take up the case. »

After Go Public contacted Kingston police, they said they were reviewing a fraud report, but could not comment due to confidentiality concerns.

Draper says one of the challenges of investigating possible financial crime is the time required.

« They are document intensive and often it takes several steps — multiple search warrants or interviews, evidence gathering sessions — to get the materials you need, » he says. 

« They can take months and years to properly collect everything under the standards that are needed for criminal prosecution. »

Tips for avoiding financial fraud

  • If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. High rates of return are a red flag.
  • Ask questions: Who is selling the product? Does it make sense?
  • Check registration: People selling many financial products need to be registered.
  • Be transparent: Talk to your family before making a sizeable investment.
  • Never wire money to a stranger.

Help for investors

While looking online for help, McEwen-Loveys came across the Investor Protection Clinic  at Toronto’s Osgoode Hall Law School. 

Opened last fall, the clinic gives free legal advice to people who believe their investments have been mishandled.

Founder Poonam Puri, an expert in corporate and securities law, says her clinic hears from many people like McEwen-Loveys who were turned away by police. 

« Municipal police are really focused on traditional crimes involving physical harm and the things that you would think of when you think of police and crime, » says Puri. « I think the police are less well-equipped to deal with economic crimes. »

Law professor Poonam Puri says the best advice for the elderly to avoid financial fraud is for parents and their adult children to have regular conversations about money matters. (Tina Mackenzie/CBC)

Even when a suspected victim has dementia — as is the case with Mendal McEwen — a case can still be pursued.

« It’s important to hear from the person who’s been harmed if that’s possible, » she says, « but if there’s documentary evidence that tells a story of wrongdoing and harm, that’s equally important and perhaps even more powerful. » 

McEwen-Loveys is hoping a team of students at York University’s Investor Protection Clinic — Max Ledger, Eric Cheng and Paniz Ghazanfari — can build a criminal case to get her father’s money back. (Tina Mackenzie/CBC)

McEwen-Loveys has teamed up with three law students at the clinic, including Max Ledger.

« Our goal is to produce a narrative that is compelling, » says Ledger, « and will eventually convince a police officer to look at the case, look at the timeline, look at the evidence and say, ‘This is something I think we should pursue.' »​​​

McEwen-Loveys says it’s not about the money anymore.

« I see my father being victimized, and I don’t want that happening to anyone, » she says. « At this point, it’s really about ensuring this doesn’t happen to others. »

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Go Public is an investigative news segment on CBC-TV, radio and the web.

We tell your stories and hold the powers that be accountable.

We want to hear from people across the country with stories you want to make public.

Submit your story ideas at Go Public.

Follow @CBCGoPublic on Twitter.

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Toronto police investigating another violent incident recorded at anti-abortion rally – Toronto

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Toronto police say they are investigating another violent incident captured on video at an anti-abortion rally.

Protesters who recorded the video said the incident occurred on Oct. 1 beside Ryerson University.

The incident happened a day after Jordan Hunt allegedly kicked an anti-abortion protester on video at a different rally near Keele Street and Bloor Street West.


READ MORE:
Toronto man arrested, charged after allegedly kicking anti-abortion protester

That video went viral and prompted plenty of reaction on social media.

In the video near Ryerson University, protesters on both sides can be seen having a discussion about abortion before a person is seen approaching anti-abortion protester Blaise Alleyne and kicking a graphic and controversial anti-abortion sign he was holding.

The attacker can then be seen throwing a dolly and shoving Katie Somers, another anti-abortion protester. The attacker appears to reach into Somers’ backpack, pull out an object and smash it on the ground before continuing to shove her.

WATCH: Violence flares at several abortion protests in GTA. Sean O’Shea reports.






“We didn’t see her coming,” Somers said.

“She kicked our signs, shoved them down. They fell down my leg, injuring me … And then I tried to run away, while she picked up a metal dolly and threw it at me and then proceeded to shove me, wrestle me around by my backpack and try to get me to fight her.”

The anti-abortion group is free to protest by law on most of the pedestrian streets around Ryerson University’s downtown campus because the streets are public property, including where the video was filmed.


READ MORE:
Graphic anti-abortion posters spotted in Toronto: As a parent, what can you do?

Somers said they are pressing charges and also plan to launch a civil case.

Alleyne and Somers are a part of the Toronto Against Abortion group, which posted the video on their YouTube page.

The group alleges that the attacker is Gabriela Skwarko, a member of the Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective and assistant at Ryerson’s Social Innovation Office.

Toronto Against Abortion alleges that Gabby Skwarko was the person who attacked their protesters during a rally near Ryerson.

YouTube / Toronto Against Abortion

Global News reached out to the Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective, but they declined an on-camera interview.

“We have no comment,” said Olson Crow, the group’s co-founder.

“They have assaulted us multiple times and giving into their view point and the way they’ve swung this is problematic and bad.”

Crow did not provide any evidence that Toronto Against Abortion had assaulted members of their group before.


READ MORE:
How university campuses became the focal point of Canada’s abortion debate

According to Somers, members of Ryerson’s Reproductive Justice Collective have been cited by Ryerson in the past for code of conduct violations because of violence at anti-abortion rallies, including one from March of this year.

Somers showed Global News a brief video of that scuffle.

“We believe that the escalation of violence against peaceful pro-life protesters is becoming a problem and would like it to stop,” Somers said.

“We don’t want our society to turn into a place where people are afraid to share their opinion.”


READ MORE:
Man roundhouse-kicks anti-abortion advocate at Toronto protest

Christian Domenic Elia, executive director of the Catholic Civil Rights League, said incidents like this have made it difficult for people to openly express anti-abortion views in public.

“For quite some time it’s been difficult to find people who oppose abortion and who would like to prayerfully and peacefully protest against it,” he said.

“It’s been hard because of the violence that we have to endure.”

Global News contacted Ryerson University for a statement Tuesday morning, but officials did not provide comment on the incident.

– With files from Sean O’Shea

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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