Former senior N.S. Mountie convicted of stealing 10 kilograms of cocaine
HALIFAX -- A former senior Nova Scotia Mountie has been convicted of stealing 10 kilograms of cocaine from an exhibit locker.
Craig Robert Burnett -- the one-time commander of an RCMP National Port Enforcement Team -- stole the drug from the force's Nova Scotia headquarters in 2010 or 2011, and replaced it with another substance.
Justice James Chipman convicted Burnett Friday of seven charges in Nova Scotia Supreme Court, following 21 days of trial.
The judge said the 51-year-old Burnett gave the cocaine to a businessman friend, Scott Rowlings, who then gave it to a third man, Mike Kanasevich, to sell.
The trio split the proceeds three ways, with Burnett netting about $100,000 cash in about six separate handoffs.
He said Burnett used some of the cash to buy a 2007 BMW motorcycle.
"As an RCMP officer at the relevant times, Craig Robert Burnett broke the very laws he was sworn to uphold," said Chipman.
Burnett had spent 20 years in the Mounties before being suspended with pay in July 2016 and then retiring.
In his ruling, Chipman says Burnett was in "terrible financial shape" in 2011 after a difficult and costly divorce, and was a single father raising two children on a sergeant's salary.
"I find this to have been a lonely period in Mr. Burnett's life ... Mr. Burnett felt 'betrayed' by his former spouse. I accept that when Mr. Burnett did not have his children and was not working, he sought solace in playing poker at the casino," said the judge.
In 2014, Burnett was promoted to staff sergeant and served in a risk management role in Truro, N.S.
The province's independent Serious Incident Response Team began an investigation in 2015 after the police watchdog was contacted by the RCMP.
In his ruling, Chipman noted that in exchange for their testimony, Kanasevich was given a $200,000 reward and Rowling was granted immunity from prosecution.
But the judge said he had no reasonable doubt Burnett stole the cocaine.
"He was able to do this because of his intimate knowledge of the shipment in question, coupled with his understanding of the exhibit storage deficiencies ... at the RCMP Oxford Street headquarters," said the judge.
"I further find that, given his exposure to controlled deliveries, Sgt. Burnett would have been versed in how to replace the cocaine he stole from the sausage-like container(s) with a replacement substance, and this is what he did."
He convicted Burnett of charges including breach of trust, stealing and trafficking cocaine, obstructing a police officer by counselling a witness to lie, and intent to mislead.