Suspended sentence for former Ottawa police union chief

According to an agreed statement of facts filed in court, Matt Skof revealed information about an unsolved homicide case to a civilian.

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Criminal charges against former Ottawa Police Association president Matt Skof were dropped Friday when his defense lawyers reached a plea deal that included a suspended sentence with 12 months of probation after Skof pleaded guilty. of a minor provincial crime.

Skof, 51, was charged five years ago with breach of trust and obstruction related to leaked recordings of phone calls with a civilian in which Skof revealed details of an undercover homicide investigation.

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Prosecutor Jason A. Nicol told the court the Crown’s office had “re-evaluated” the prospect of proceeding with a criminal trial, and those charges were formally dropped Friday when Skof pleaded guilty to the provincial offense of disclosing personal information in contravention of municipal law. Ontario Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Skof’s defense team, Connie D’Angelo and Michael Edelson, said Skof made a charitable donation to CHEO of $5,000, the same amount they could have received a fine for violating the MFIPPA, which they did not. It is a criminal offense and does not provide for any prison sentence.

The conditions of his suspended sentence include one year of probation where he is not allowed to commit any “similar or related” crimes, must appear in court when necessary and must notify the court of any change of address.

The provincial offense was added to Skof’s court record in January after a potential criminal trial was postponed in October.

Skof was first charged with breach of trust and obstruction in January 2019, following a six-month OPP investigation, sparked by a chief’s complaint filed by former Police Chief Charles Bordeleau, about the leaked audio tapes. , which appeared on social media in the summer of 2018. .

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According to the agreed statement of facts filed in support of the guilty plea on Friday, Skof revealed information about an ongoing unsolved homicide case, including details related to an undercover operation, during telephone conversations with the civilian from July to September 2017.

Skof was aware that the information he revealed was “confidential and sensitive,” according to the agreed facts, although he did not know that the woman was recording the phone calls.

The recordings, with the audio edited to include only Skof’s voice, were later leaked on social media and the website by Paul Manning, a Hamilton police officer on extended leave with an “extensive” presence in social networks focused on police issues. and alleged corruption. The recordings have since been removed from the public domain.

Before divulging the details of the sting operation, according to the agreed facts, Skof told the woman that she had to take the secret “to the grave.”

“Okay, so are you ready? Sit down,” Skof told him in a call cited in court on Friday. “You’re in the fucking dark here. Okay, don’t get caught. No queries can be made…”

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When the woman asked Skof if he was recording the call himself, he responded, “I just gave you something that I could probably go to jail for.”

He also said, “You have as much shit on me as I have on you.”

Some details he shared about the sting operation were accurate and some were not, based on the agreed-upon facts. The sting operation into an unsolved homicide was called off for unrelated reasons in 2017, before the leak.

The woman alerted Bordeleau in June 2018 and eventually provided Ontario Provincial Police investigators with 16 unredacted phone conversations with Skof.

Ontario Court Justice Robert Wadden on Friday accepted Skof’s guilty plea along with the Crown and defence’s joint sentencing submission.

“This is not a case where information was revealed to a criminal element… (The woman) was someone with whom Mr. Skof had a professional relationship and had worked on various law enforcement-related efforts,” D’ said Angelo.

The guilty plea was a “significant mitigating factor” in the suspended sentence, D’Angelo said, “and is also a reflection of (Skof’s) deep remorse and regret for what happened.”

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D’Angelo called it a “fair and appropriate” sentence, since the resolution saved judicial resources and the expenses of a trial that would have called civilian and police witnesses to testify.

The declaration and resolution conclude a long journey through the judicial system from the time of Skof’s arrest on January 23, 2019, and through numerous delays related to judicial backlogs during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

Nicol said the Crown office had “extensive resolution discussions” with the defense that included “thousands of pages of submissions” before reaching an agreement on the plea.

The charge of breach of trust would only apply to an official holding a public office, Nicol explained, and while police officers qualify under that section of the Criminal Code, there was the question of whether Skof was acting as a police officer in that moment. of the accusation, when he was president of the OPA and was not on active duty.

The Crown would have been required to demonstrate its intention to secure a conviction on the criminal obstruction charge, and Nicol said there was a lack of “definitive” legal precedent to support the Crown’s case.

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Skof became president of the Ottawa Police Association in 2011 and had the support of the rank-and-file union while remaining president after criminal charges were laid. Skof resigned as president of the union and retired as a police officer in April 2022.

His retirement was due in part to the criminal investigation, D’Angelo told the court, and he left the police service before becoming eligible for a full pension.

A $500,000 lawsuit Skof brought against Bordeleau and the Ottawa Police Services Board was dismissed by consent last year.

D’Angelo told the court that Skof wanted to “put the matter behind him.” He currently works as a labor consultant.

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