Canadian Gambling Case Dropped, Police Accused of Evidence Tampering, Theft
Posted on: May 19, 2021, 11:18h.
Last updated on: May 20, 2021, 12:15h.
York, Canada’s police department has been forced to drop charges against the owner of a mansion in Markham following a gambling-related raid. The move came after it was revealed cops acted improperly, reports claim.
York Regional Police (YRP) officers allegedly planted evidence — a gun holster — and stole pricey watches from the owner’s bedroom while searching the property last July, according to claims from the attorney representing the mansion’s owner.
One watch is a Patek Philippe. Its value is about $300,000. The second is a gold-faced Jaeger-LeCoultre. It’s worth about $150,000. Both are still missing, news reports claim.
Authorities also violated attorney-client privilege during the case, according to a report from Postmedia News of Canada. An officer allegedly photographed documents from the mansion owner’s attorney during the search.
The investigation into the allegedly illegal gaming operation was called Project Endgame. The mansion’s owner, identified as Wei Wei, 52, was later arrested, as were his ex-wife and daughter.
The charges against the trio were dropped following the allegations about police misconduct, the report said.
In the course of our work defending Mr. Wei, we uncovered troubling evidence pointing to instances of serious police misconduct, including conduct that, if proven, would amount to criminal offenses,” Danielle Robitaille, an attorney for Wei, wrote to the regional Ontario Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), Postmedia News said.
“Members of the YRP appear to have stolen two watches belonging to Mr. Wei, valued at approximately $450,000, while executing a search warrant,” the letter added, the report said.
“Members of YRP appear to have planted evidence, namely a gun holster, in a room associated with Mr. Wei while executing the same warrant; and the investigative team breached Mr. Wei’s solicitor-client privilege in their execution of a subsequent warrant,” the letter claimed.
Defense Attorney Wants Independent Inquiry
The attorney wants to see an independent inquiry. York police said they are conducting their own review.
Given the way YRP made a significant public spectacle of the results of their investigation in Project Endgame, and their continued communication with media while the charges were outstanding, we have grave concerns that the internal investigation into this troubling misconduct will fail to adequately probe the case,” Robitaille claimed in her letter.
Local cops claim Wei and Robitaille are uncooperative. That is delaying the inquiry, the CBC reported.
Under an agreement with authorities, Wei said he would not enter an unlicensed gambling operation for two years. He also “gave up his interest in the mansion, $960,000 in cash and gaming equipment seized by police,” the report said.
Previously, Wei met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on at least two occasions several years ago.
During the raid, cops seized more than CAD 1 million (US$752,080) in cash, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and 11 assorted firearms. Weapons included an AR-15 rifle with a 30-round magazine, as well as a 9mm Glock handgun found in the operator’s bedroom.
A “fully-operational casino” was discovered in the mansion’s basement, police added. There were “extremely high” betting limits at the tables.
Cases against five others arrested in connection with the raid are still pending in courts, CBC said. Initially, 29 arrests were made in the case.
Mansion Now For Sale
The mansion is now up for sale. The asking price is $9,980,000.
The 20,000-square foot mansion has 53 rooms. Inside, the mansion was the site of high-stakes baccarat, mahjong, and poker games.
Luxury abounded, with high-priced liquor and wine, and braised shark fins were among the delicacies served to players.