The drug-dealing key witness in the case against Hamilton police officer Craig Ruthowsky alleged in court Wednesday that Ruthowsky had offered to transport a shipment of cocaine from Jamaica to Canada for him.
The dealer — who cannot be identified because of a publication ban — returned to the witness box in a Toronto courtroom for a third day of cross-examination. Court has heard the dealer and his associates were collectively paying Ruthowsky $20,000 a month in exchange for police secrets.
“He said he wouldn’t get searched because he was a police officer,” the dealer said in court.
“He was expecting to be paid for it, but we didn’t get into a dollar amount.”
The allegation about transporting cocaine comes after the dealer alleged Tuesday that he and Ruthowsky had planned to rob one of his clients.
Ruthowsky’s lawyer, Greg Lafontaine, maintained that the information, which was gleaned from text messages between the two men, was simply another case of the dealer feeding Ruthowsky information because he was an informant.
“The Jamaicans involved in those texts were individuals involved in the drug trade in Hamilton, and you were giving him information, right sir?” Lafontaine said.
“No,” the dealer said. “I was paying [Ruthowsky] for information. Technically, he was my informant.”
Ruthowsky, 44, has pleaded not guilty in Superior Court in Toronto to charges of bribery, attempting to obstruct justice, trafficking cocaine, criminal breach of trust, and conspiring to traffic marijuana.
Both Ruthowsky and the dealer were caught on police wiretaps as part of a massive Toronto police guns and gangs investigation called “Project Pharaoh.” It was after hearing that wiretap conversation while in custody, Lafontaine alleges, that the dealer became worried about other inmates finding out he was an informant.
Dealer was scared, defence suggests
Repeatedly, Lafontaine has suggested to the witness that he was scared that he would be pegged as an informant at the time of his arrest — and that’s why he told police that Ruthowsky was on the take.
The dealer has adamantly denied that.
“I only became scared when Craig’s wife came to bail court, and blurted out that I was an informant in open court,” the dealer said.
The dealer also alleged that he was removed from the courthouse that day “for his own safety,” and that Ruthowsky’s wife, who is also a Hamilton police officer, was “trying to get people hurt.”
“Other than that, I wasn’t scared,” the witness said.
Throughout the course of his cross-examination, Ruthowsky’s lawyer could sometimes be seen smirking when he turned from the witness. Ruthowsky often whispered to his lawyer between questions.
Lafontaine repeatedly questioned the witness about dates, times, and who was present during different events that have been outlined during the trial.
The witness’ testimony continues Thursday.