Craig Ruthowsky’s defence lawyer attempted to undercut a longtime drug dealer’s knowledge of weed in court Thursday morning, as the witness’ cross-examination at the Hamilton cop’s corruption trial stretched into its fourth day.
The dealer — who cannot be identified because of a publication ban — was yawning in the witness box in a Toronto courtroom as Ruthowsky’s lawyer, Greg Lafontaine continued to push him on the same questions, over and over.
Even the judge appeared to have had enough Thursday morning. “You covered all this the other day Mr. Lafontaine, extensively. Why do we have to till the same ground again?” Justice Robert Clark said at one point.
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.
At one point, Lafontaine showed the witness a picture of plants police found at a Hamilton marijuana grow op. Court has previously heard that the dealer had a deal with Ruthowsky to give up the grow op to police — as long as he got to keep half of the pot that they seized.
In the end, court has heard, there was no harvestable weed there to take.
Lafontaine attempted to dispute that suggestion.
“There’s harvestable marijuana there, right sir?” Lafontaine said, showing him a photo.
“Where do you see a bud? All you can see is leaves,” the witness shot back.
“You never testified as an expert witness, right sir?” the lawyer then said, about a man who court has heard was a prolific drug dealer in Hamilton.
“I grew weed for years,” the witness responded.
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.
Lafontaine played more police intercepted phone calls from that project Thursday morning. In one four-minute call between the dealer and one of his associates, the two men discuss one of them sleeping with a woman, which left the judge shaking his head.
At one point in the call, the dealer’s associate advises him that “it’s going down tonight.”
Lafontaine said the next morning, there were three police raids across the city.
“There was a leak somewhere who got you something,” Lafontaine responded.
“I guess you could say that,” the dealer said.
His cross-examination continues Thursday afternoon.