TORONTO – A police officer in Toronto who stole and ate a marijuana chocolate bar confiscated during a store raid was a "complete idiot" for handling the evidence, a judge said on Friday that the man pleaded guilty to this case.
Vittorio Dominelli, a 36-year-old who resigned this week, has pleaded guilty for trying to obstruct justice in connection with the January incident.
The Justice Mary Misener, who presided over the case, said Dominelli's actions were at the lower end of the spectrum, when fraud cases were reported, but they were significant.
"From the point of view of public interest, the impact is profound," she said. "Behavior here that you can not describe as anything but stupid … It was just a complete idiot."
Misener added that the fact that Dominelli took an article with marijuana infusion was not the problem.
"Perhaps she would have taken cough syrup or a pair of comfortable socks that wanted to try her feet," she said. – It interferes with evidence.
Dominelli, the son of an old Toronto officer and a father of three, was part of a team that searched an illegal marijuana dispensary around 5:00 pm. on January 27, according to an agreed statement of the facts read in court by crown lawyer Philip Perlmutter.
The officer, armed and dressed in bed linen, agreed to make pizza for the team as they went through the pot shop, heard the court. As she came out of the shop, Dominelli saw some chocolate bars of cannabis oil and put it in her pocket.
He and his partner, Const. Jamie Young, went to a nearby pizza place where Dominelli began to think about taking chocolate bars, Perlmutter said.
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Dominelli told Young about his reservations and wanted to leave the bars at the pizza place, but his partner did not agree with his idea, he found the court.
After the raid was over at 11:00, Dominelli and Young were re-established to supervise a bar after hours, the court found. Mr. Dominelli spoke about the legalization of recreational marijuana, and the couple talked about how none has ever tried cannabis, he found the court.
"He assumed it would be a great feeling," Perlmutter said, reading the agreed statement of the facts. "He did not think a small amount would affect every officer."
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The pair consumed all eight squares of a chocolate bar during their surveillance mission and became "seriously intoxicated," heard the court.
Young was accused of trying to obstruct justice and breaching trust, but charges against her have not been proven in court.
Dominelli said that initially he did not feel anything, but after about 20 minutes, the chocolate effects hit him "like a ton of bricks," he heard the court.
"He was sweating hard and believed he would go out," Perlmutter said.
Dominelli believed he would die, he heard the court. He asked his partner to call for help, but he refused. Finally, the officer took the radio station from his partner, ran down the street and asked for help.
"Submit an ambulance," says Dominelli in the dispatcher speech in the appeal, playing in court.
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When interrogated by the dispatcher, Dominelli is heard saying he will come out.
"Are you injured? Did something happen?" Asked the dispatcher.
"I'm just stupid," says Dominelli.
When other officers rushed to the scene, one of them slipped on the ice and suffered a serious injury, the court heard. This officer still has "significant difficulty in speech and vision," and remains at work after 10 months.
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The court has also heard that seven people have been charged with shop raids, but these allegations have been removed due to Dominelli's actions.
Peter Brauti, Dominelli's lawyer, told the court that his client is remorseless and ashamed.
"It was an act of stupidity," Brauti said. "He did all he could to show his remorse and repair what he did."
Dominelli offered to resign in a few weeks of the incident, the lawyer said. He is also depressed, shakes when he talks and weeps when he talks about the incident, Brauti said.
Dominelli apologized to his court, police and his family.
"For my wife and children, we have turned our lives upside down," he wrote in documents filed with the court. "I was wrong, I did."
The Crown proposes a conditional condemnation for Domenelli to be served in the community, while the defense demands a conditional discharge. The allegation of breach of trust has been withdrawn.
The judge will decide Dominelli's sentence at a later date.