When reports of corruption within the GTA’s towing industry first hit mainstream headlines, local police services looked poised to get to the bottom of it, but as the aftermath of Project Platinum is sorted out in court, defence lawyers are baffled by the number of charges stayed. Don Carter, a lawyer representing one of the individuals accused in Project Platinum, said Justice Laura Bird’s decision to stay the charges against him “came entirely out of the blue,” when the decision was made in Newmarket, Ont.

“I was certainly surprised,” he said. “It was a shocking turn of events. Over 40 charges related to guns and drugs were stayed against my client. It was a really major project; its been going on for two years with several groups being prosecuted…I can only imagine the kinds of resources put into this by police and the Crown.”

In total, more than 80 charges linked to Project Platinum were stayed. York Regional Police maintains that Project Platinum left a positive impact.

“Successful prosecution is not the only measure by which we achieve our community safety goals,” Const. Laura Nicolle wrote in an email. “These efforts resulted in a substantial decrease in violence connected to the tow-truck industry and we were pleased to support the subsequent regulatory changes that were made to better protect motorists.”

Former York police superintendent Mike Slack claimed at the time that the project had been “very successful” and had “dismantled four distinct criminal organizations.”

“A significant amount of evidence has been uncovered that we are confident will lead to the successful prosecution of individuals in the supporting organization,” Slack said to reporters.

Carter says that within the last two weeks an undisclosed issue was communicated from Justice Bird to the Crown, and in reply, the Crown said the defence would not be able to answer the charges. “I don’t know what the problem was because we never got to see it,” said Carter.

To date, York police have seized 11 tow trucks, more than 40 illegal firearms, illegal drugs and more than $500,000 in cash, as part of Project Platinum.

“The expectation that every case is perfect is an unrealistic one,” said Const. Nicolle in a written statement. “We operate in an imperfect justice system. By their nature, these cases are complex and multifaceted. We always have, and always will, face challenges within the court system that may or may not be surmountable in any given case.”


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