OTTAWA: A Niagara Regional Police officer has been sentenced to a total of four months in custody after being convicted of three of six charges related to a cheese smuggling operation.
Const. Scott Heron was charged in September 2012 following an investigation into an operation involving the purchasing cases of cheese in bulk from south of the border and bringing it into Fort Erie without declaring the cheese or paying duty.
Once in Canada, the cheese was sorted and prepared for distribution to a variety of restaurants in the region.
At the time of the arrest, the NRP said there was significant money to be made from the operation.
Police say about $200,000 worth of cheese was smuggled in, generating a profit of about $165,000.
Heron was charged with two Criminal Code offences, conspiracy to commit an indictable offence and breach of trust by a public officer; and four Customs Act of Canada offences, smuggling, unlawful possession of imported goods, evasion of duties and false statements.
In September, Heron was convicted of conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, breach of trust by public officer and unlawful possession of imported goods.
On Friday, Nov. 27, Heron received three months of custody for conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, one month of custody for breach of trust and three months of concurrent custody for unlawful possession of imported goods.
In a statement, Niagara Regional Police chief Jeff McGuire said the involvement of an officer in criminal activity violates their sworn oath and tarnishes the reputation of the service.
“The facts upon which Scott Heron was convicted are disturbing and are not reflective of the men and women who work in accordance with their oath every single day,” the release said. “The Niagara Regional Police Service is committed to restoring the trust of the public which has been defamed by the actions of a few.”
Heron has been suspended with pay since Sept. 27, 2012, as the Police Services Act does not permit police services to stop paying a suspended officer until after a conviction.
Now that Heron has been convicted, he will be suspended. His employment with the NRP will be addressed through the discipline process, according to the Police Services Act.