Friday, 29 Sep 2023

Ticket fixing prosecutor gets house arrest as part of 3 month sentence, Ontario court rules

TORONTO – A regional prosecutor who illegally fixed traffic tickets to please her police officer boyfriend has been given a three-month conditional sentence for breach of trust and attempted obstruction of justice.

The sentence requires Caterina Petrolo, who was fired from York Region, to serve the first two months under house arrest.

“I am satisfied that a conditional sentence of imprisonment would be consistent with the fundamental purpose and principles of sentencing, and that the appropriate length of this conditional sentence is three months,” Ontario court Judge David Harris said. “Serving her sentence in the community, subject to appropriate conditions, would not endanger the safety of the community.”

Among other restrictions, Petrolo cannot leave the province without permission and must live at a home in Toronto.

The prosecution had sought a nine-month conditional sentence, while Petrolo’s lawyer called for a conditional discharge and probation.

Harris had convicted Petrolo, 37, in January over two cases in which friends of York Region police Const. Richard Senior escaped stiffer punishment for their driving offences.

Court documents show investigators came across Petrolo’s activities during a corruption investigation into Senior, with whom she had been in a romantic relationship.

In one case, Harris found Petrolo, working out of Richmond Hill, Ont., intervened on behalf of a man whose father was a longtime friend of Senior’s. The man had run up tickets for disobeying a street sign in nearby Markham and another in Toronto for failing to wear a seatbelt. Both charges were dropped.

Harris also convicted Petrolo in a second case involving a friend of Senior’s who was charged with careless driving but pleaded guilty to the far less serious offence of disobeying a lane light. The conviction, Harris said, was based on an intercepted conversation Petrolo had with Senior in which she told him she had “worked some magic” on the ticket.

In imposing sentence on the first-time offender, the judge said a conditional discharge or suspended sentence would be insufficient or contrary to the public interest.

Last month, a hearing tribunal of the Law Society of Ontario said it was looking to suspend or further restrict Petrolo’s paralegal licence in light of her convictions. She had been allowed since June to keep practising under supervision pending the outcome of her case.

Her “recent criminal convictions raise real concerns with respect to public confidence in the Law Society as an effective regulator and public confidence in the profession,” the tribunal said.

Senior was charged in 2018 with 30 criminal offences, including trafficking in cocaine, attempted armed robbery, obstructing justice and weapons charges. A Toronto officer and a second York Region officer were also charged in the probe.

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