An imminent legal decision could serve as another reminder that in one Canadian province, cops who commit crimes and violate procedures earn healthy paychecks long after they’ve been busted.
One suspended Toronto police officer has made more than a million dollars while serving a suspension—now in its 13th year.
Toronto Police Constable Ioan-Florin Floria has been suspended with pay since 2007, when he was arrested and charged with several crimes. Police said Floria “was closely associated with an Eastern European criminal organization,” and had “outlined methods of avoiding police detection.” Floria’s friends were arrested in a parallel drug bust.
A workplace tribunal fired Floria in 2018, but he appealed to the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, maintaining his spot on the force—and his salary.
“The victim is me and [the] Toronto Police Service and the public,” Floria said in a 2017 phone interview, adding that his salary on suspension totalled “$800,000 minimum.” He earned over $100,000 every year since then—including $109,000 in 2019, according to provincial disclosures, putting him easily over a million dollars.
The commission is expected to rule on Floria’s appeal next month. The ruling will arrive after worldwide protests against police brutality and other misconduct, and significant pressure to defund police forces.
Floria is one of 34 Toronto officers currently suspended with pay, according to a list released to VICE News this week. Ontario law, which allows for unpaid suspensions only in rare circumstances, is a longstanding source of embarrassment for police chiefs, as many suspended officers earn six-figure salaries—the National Post reported in 2015 that “at least 80” suspended Ontario cops were “costing taxpayers a minimum of $13,635.59 per day.”
New legislation in Ontario provides modest additions to police chiefs’ powers to suspend officers without pay. An officer could be suspended without pay if they are “charged with a serious offence…under a law of Canada,” among other criteria. But the province has yet to define what constitutes a serious offence, a spokesperson said, and police services continue to follow the old legislation.
Police believed that Floria had covered up a kidnapping after a marijuana grower, who he knew socially, told him in 2005 that he had been abducted. The grower’s boss in the drug trade paid a purported $200,000 for his release. Floria pretended to investigate as a way of providing cover for his friends, who allegedly were responsible, a jury heard during the criminal trial.
A jury acquitted Floria of all charges in 2012. A workplace discipline hearing followed, with witness testimony only beginning in 2016.
Toronto police prosecutors focused on Floria’s failure to fulfill his duties as a police officer after learning of the marijuana grower’s kidnapping and another abduction. Floria had already said at his criminal trial that failing to write a report on the marijuana grower’s claims was “the biggest mistake of my life.” He also said he investigated, and concluded there had been no kidnapping.
The workplace hearing moved slowly. The marijuana grower, who testified via video link and through an interpreter, unravelled and gave sometimes-bizarre answers.
“God is big, and he sees all these things,” he said in the midst of a gruelling cross-examination.
In an appeal statement, defence lawyer Lawrence Gridin criticized the prosecution for moving slowly during the discipline process, even when dealing with records that should have been familiar. He also criticized the tribunal’s handling of the testimony of the marijuana grower, who has admitted to lying to police. Floria wants three of his four convictions overturned, but is not challenging one that did not come with a dismissal penalty .
Floria’s legal battles may not end with the ruling, which could be appealed to the province’s Divisional Court.
Floria recently asked this reporter not to contact him again, but said in 2017 he was ready for a long legal battle.
“I’m going all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada,” he said.
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