Toronto private eye gets 18 months in jail for attempts to ‘blackmail’ high-profile harassment victim

A Toronto private investigator who was convicted of obstructing justice for trying to “blackmail” a victim into staying silent in a criminal case has been sentenced to a year-and-a-half in jail plus three-years probation.

Superior Court Justice Kenneth Campbell said he was sending a message to Mitch Dubros and all private investigators in Ontario that they must not “threaten and intimidate” witnesses who are scheduled to testify in court cases.

Dubros, 62, a licensed private investigator who has described himself as both an expert in intelligence and a “paranormal” sleuth, was taken into custody after Tuesday’s hearing.

The Dubros case was an offshoot of the Toronto crown attorney’s office’s previous prosecution of television and radio host Mike Bullard, who had been arrested by Toronto police on charges of harassing Citytv reporter Cynthia Mulligan following the break up of a romantic relationship. Two months before the preliminary hearing in that case in 2018, Bullard’s defense lawyer Calvin Barry hired private investigator Dubros. Dubros told Campbell that his assignment had been to “dig up dirt.”

As reported in the Star, Dubros either visited or telephoned people, including Mulligan and her work associates. Dubros’s own secretly-made recordings show he told one person he could “sling hearsay that will taint all of your professional careers” and another “I can be ruthless, I can dig every skeleton of you.” When he visited Mulligan at her home one Sunday morning prior to the Bullard hearing, Dubros told Mulligan he was hoping for a resolution to the Bullard case that would stop “any more garbage coming out.” Mulligan told court she saw this as a “veiled threat” not to testify.

Dubros also telephoned or visited Mulligan’s work associates and her ex-husband, secretly recording all of these interactions. Each recording was played in Dubros’s trial last year.

Campbell, in his reasons for sentencing on Tuesday, made numerous comments about what Dubros had done in making these approaches to Mulligan and her work colleagues.

In Mulligan’s case, Campbell said “she felt like she was being intimidated into not testifying against Mr. Bullard and not proceeding with the trial,” Campbell said. “She was not going to be intimidated by anyone, no matter what.”

Cambell noted, “the same grotesque tactics” were used with Dubros’s approaches to other prospective witnesses in the Bullard case. Campbell said that rather than perform investigative tasks allowed by law, he set out on a course of conduct that was “a clear attempt to effectively blackmail Ms. Mulligan into staying silent in relation to the misconduct of Mr. Bullard.”

Campbell also noted that Mulligan told court that “it is hard enough for women to come forward and face an accuser in court, but the actions of (Dubros) added a whole other level of stress.”

Former TV host Mike Bullard, right, pleaded guilty in 2018 to one count of making harassing phone calls to his ex-girlfriend Cynthia Mulligan.

As the Star has previously reported, Mulligan and other witnesses did testify in the preliminary hearing. Ultimately, a criminal harassment charge against Bullard was dismissed at the preliminary inquiry on June 1, 2018. On June 8, 2018, Bullard pleaded guilty to one count of making harassing phone calls. He also pleaded guilty to two breaches of a court order—one of which required him to have no contact, direct or indirect, with Mulligan. Bullard was discharged from court with a clean criminal record and six months of probation.

In determining an appropriate sentence, Campbell said he weighed requests by Crown attorney Katie Beaudoin, who had asked for imprisonment of three to three-and-a-half years, and defense lawyer Frank Addario, who had asked for a six-month conditional sentence to be served at home, with breaks for getting groceries, medical appointments and employment.

The judge said a jail term was necessary to send a message, but he made it shorter than what the crown asked for because he had high hopes that following his detention, Dubros could move forward with his life. As part of the sentence, the judge ordered a three-year probation term following release, that Dubros reported once a month to a probation officer and that he performed 180 hours’ community service. A DNA sample will also be taken from Dubros, the judge ordered.

While nothing prevents a private investigator from speaking to potential witnesses to try and gather information to help the defence, provincial regulations require that they behave with “honesty and integrity” and not break any laws.

During sentencing, court heard that Dubros had been a private investigator for three decades, but that his main source of income was the Ontario Disability Support Program due to anxiety and depression. A pre-sentence report detailing his circumstances and prepared by a probation officer noted that Dubros is $1.5 million in debt, which Dubros said was due to the expense of caring for ailing parents (they passed away in 2020) and a $30,000 eye surgery carried out in Minnesota in 2018.

The Star has learned that Dubros was, until recently, the sole owner of a stately Toronto house on Heath Street West in the Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue West area. Dubros sold the house last December for $3.7 million. The house had previously belonged to his late parents but was transferred to Dubros for $265,000 three years before their deaths in 2020. Prior to the sale last December, Dubros had placed a $500,000, high-interest mortgage on the house, which was discharged with the sale.

Information related to his sale of the house was not presented to court.

The Star asked Dubros’s lawyer Addario about this matter, but Addario did not respond to questions about the house ownership and sale.

In Tuesday’s hearing, the issue of whether Dubros would maintain his license as a private investigator now that he has a criminal conviction. Court was told that as part of a loophole in the rules governing private investigators in Ontario he will not lose his license. The provincial rules state that private investigators cannot have a criminal record and a long list of the type of criminal offense that would bar them from their job is attached to the provincial regulation. Obstruction of justice is not one of them.

Lawyer Addario had raised the issue of Dubros potentially losing his license as a mitigating factor for sentencing.

However, Campbell said that while it is possible a “pending review” of Dubros’s license may cause it to be revoked, he was making his ruling on the facts at hand — Dubros is currently licensed by the province of Ontario as an investigator.

In the presentence report prepared for the court, Dubros is quoted saying he is “remorseful” and “prepared to accept whatever sentence is imposed by the courts.”

Following a request by the Star, Campbell has permitted the release of the audio recordings made by Dubros of his approaches to Mulligan and other potential witnesses.

you can listen to them here:

A Feb. 11, 2018 visit to Cynthia Mulligan’s home.

A Feb. 11, 2018 phone call to Mulligan’s voicemail.

A Feb. 27, 2018, phone call to Citytv cameraman James Tumelty

A Feb. 27, 2018 phone call to Mulligan’s Citytv colleague Pam Seattle


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