Corrupt former Hamilton cop Craig Ruthowsky sat in prison for seven months last year — yet he still made over $104,000 in 2018 and landed on the Sunshine List.
Ruthowsky was sentenced to 12½ years in a federal penitentiary on May 30 for his role in a pay for protection scheme with a crew of drug dealers. Hamilton police say his salary was cut off on that date, yet Ruthowsky was still one of the province’s highest paid public sector earners last year — despite spending the bulk of it behind bars.
Hamilton police Const. Jerome Stewart told CBC News that Ruthowsky actually remained on the service’s books as a police officer until Aug. 31.
“He was still an employee until the 31st, he was just suspended,” Stewart said. Ontario law requires that suspended officers continue to be paid in most cases.
Right after Ruthowsky was convicted, Hamilton police issued a statement saying it would be pursuing Police Services Act charges against Ruthowsky and seeking to have him fired through that process.
But that didn’t happen. Ruthowsky wasn’t fired, Stewart said. He resigned — three months after his conviction.
“He resigned before the service could seek termination pursuant to the act,” Stewart said.
Ruthowsky on Sunshine List multiple times while suspended
So if Ruthowsky spent more than half of last year in prison, how did he make so much money? The reason, Hamilton police say, is because of the service’s collective bargaining agreement with its officers.
Ruthowsky was owed annual leave and sick bank payments, and that, combined with his regular pay under suspension before his conviction, netted him enough to land on the Sunshine List yet again, Stewart said.
Ruthowsky has made hundreds of thousands of dollars since he was arrested. He had been suspended with pay since June of 2012, as his case wound through the courts.
He made over $104,000 in 2017, over $107,000 in 2015, and over $109,000 in 2012.
Mayor Fred Eisenberger, who is the head of the police services board, said in a statement that issues like this one have been “an ongoing frustration for both the police chief and the board.”
“The Chief of Police and the Hamilton Police Services Board have been asking the province to change the legislation to allow the chief of police to suspend officers without pay under certain circumstances, especially when it comes to criminal charges not related to policing work, which is not allowed under any circumstance in the current legislation,” he said.
Hamilton police would not answer any other questions about the situation.
A 2nd trial coming
In addition to his current sentence, the man a judge once said used his badge “as an ATM” will be back in court sometime in the near future to face more corruption-related charges.
These charges stem from a Hamilton police investigation separate from the one that led to his first trial, linked to events that took place between 2009 and 2012.
He was originally charged with:
- Two counts of breach of trust
- Two counts of obstructing justice
- Public mischief
- Weapons trafficking
- Fraud under $5,000
- Two counts of conspiracy to commit an indictable offence
- Trafficking marijuana
- Two counts of trafficking cocaine
It is unclear which of those charges the Crown is officially moving forward on. A trial date has not yet been set.
Ruthowsky was arrested after being caught on police wiretaps as part of a massive Toronto police guns and gangs investigation called “Project Pharaoh.”