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Financial records dissected at ex-Mountie’s drug trial

Defence questions thoroughness of RCMP investigation

2 min read
caption Craig Robert Burnett convenes with his defence lawyer during a break.
Miguel Santa Maria

The Crown presented stacks of financial documents Monday to back up its claim that Craig Robert Burnett stole cocaine from an RCMP evidence locker.

RCMP Const. Ryan Berry, who was part of investigation Operation Handshake, presented and discussed the records they had collected as evidence. The records, which dated back to 2010, included financial statements, expense claims, GPS tracking history and phone records of Burnett and his peers Scott Rowlings and Mike Kanasevich.

Burnett, 51, is accused of stealing 10 kilograms of cocaine from the RCMP sometime between 2010 and 2011. The Crown alleges Burnett and his friend Rowlings planned to give the cocaine to Kanasevich to sell. The profit from the deal would be split between the three of them.

Berry told the court some of Rowlings’ 2011 phone records suggest he was in touch with Kanasevich, who became a police informant. Rowlings also became an informant against Burnett later on in the investigation.

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During cross-examination, Burnett’s attorney, David J. Bright, questioned the specificity of their findings. He said Kanasevich’s phone may be involved, but that doesn’t confirm he was the one using it.

Bright also questioned Berry on his team’s investigative capabilities. Bright said several reports were worded poorly and could be misinterpreted. He cited a recurring passage where the dates of the cocaine’s supposed delivery to Rowlings could be confused as the dates in which Burnett allegedly stole it.

Berry said he only realized this as he was on the stand.

“I believe it comes down to poor sentence structure more than the intent,” he said.

Later, forensic accountant Christine Charbonneau testified she found Burnett’s cash expenses for items like vehicle maintenance, were inconsistent with the amount withdrawn from all of his accounts between 2011 and 2013.

In that same time period, Charbonneau said, Burnett’s bank account records showed higher travel and internet purchases. Meanwhile, there was a discrepancy with cash withdrawals for expenses like groceries.

Burnett was arrested in August 2016 following Operation Handshake. He has pleaded not guilty to seven charges, including stealing cocaine with a value exceeding $5,000, trafficking a substance, transfer of property that was a result of an offence, obstructing a police officer by counselling a witness to lie and intent to mislead.

The defence is expected to cross-examine Charbonneau on Tuesday. The judge-only trial before Supreme Court Justice James L. Chipman began Jan. 21.

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