Edmonton landlord, associates awarded $250 each from police chief over disclosure issue

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Edmonton’s police chief has been ordered to pay a total of $1,250 in legal costs to five people — including controversial landlord Abdullah Shah — after a review board found problems with how his office disclosed information related to a public complaint.

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Shah and five associates were identified as “persons of interest” in a 2019 investigation that included high-profile raids with Canada Revenue Agency agents on Shah’s home and several commercial properties along 111 Avenue.

In a news release at the time, police said Shah, Shairose Esmail, Ralph Hoffman, Jennifer Vuong, Sarah Fassmann and Tony Singh were the targets of an investigation into crimes including money laundering, participation in a criminal organization, drug trafficking, obtaining credit by false pretences, trafficking the proceeds of crime and tax evasion.

The investigation ultimately did not result in charges. Shah’s lawyer accused police of conducting a “witch hunt” against her client.

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Shah, also known as Carmen Pervez, served time for mortgage fraud and was recently sentenced to house arrest for ordering a “hit” on a man in the Edmonton Remand Centre

Shah and four of the named individuals (Hoffman excluded) filed a Police Act complaint on Aug. 1, 2019, claiming the information release “was an unreasonable violation of their privacy and amounted to discreditable conduct contrary to Edmonton Police Service policy.”

Among those named in the complaint was Supt. Trent Forsberg, who has since retired.

Chief Dale McFree dismissed the complaint in June 2020, saying there was insufficient evidence to convict the involved officers at a disciplinary hearing.

Shah and company appealed to the Alberta Law Enforcement Review Board, an arm’s-length civilian organization. However, the board lost jurisdiction when Forsberg retired.

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Shah and the others opted not to pursue their complaint against the remaining officers but did opt to pursue legal costs, claiming McFee “lacked transparency in his processing of their complaint” by providing them incomplete records.

The review board sided with Shah and the other appellants.

Abdullah Shah outside the Law Enforcement Review Board office on Jan. 29, 2019.
Abdullah Shah outside the Law Enforcement Review Board office on Jan. 29, 2019. Postmedia

“The board finds that the original record produced was insufficient and that the chief’s actions in failing to provide a complete and accurate record was such that a message needs to be sent to denounce and discourage these actions in the future,” presiding board member Victoria Foster wrote in a June decision.

“It appears to the board that the chief withheld information in the record that was known or should have been known and available at the time the record was prepared and produced.”

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Foster called the chief’s actions “offensive to such a degree that it should be discouraged. The chief was not diligent in assembling and producing the record for this appeal, such that it required the appellants to file an application for additional evidence.”

“The board and the parties rely on the chief to provide complete and accurate records,” she concluded. “Not for the first time, the EPS has failed to produce key documents as directed by the board, at the outset of an appeal … This is of significant concern to the board particularly, in light of our civilian oversight mandate.”

McFee’s office was ordered to pay Shah, Esmail, Vuong, Fassmann and Singh $250 each.

jwakefield@postmedia.com

twitter.com/jonnywakefield

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