Fraud charges laid over a year ago against Sarnia police officer has been cleared

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Criminal charges laid over a year ago against a veteran Sarnia police officer have been dismissed.

Jason Priddle, a 42-year-old first-class constable, was arrested and charged in late August 2020 with:

  • uttering a forged document,
  • forgery
  • attempted fraud

According to a document filed at the Sarnia courthouse, the attempted fraud was allegedly connected to a mortgage renewal application.

14 months later, the Lambton Crown attorney’s office asked justice of the peace Helen Gale to withdraw the charges as Priddle has finished the Direct Accountability Program.

Gale announced in the Sarnia courtroom that “all charges against Jason Priddle are withdrawn at the request of the Crown,” bringing to an end the drawn-out criminal proceedings.

Ken Marley represented Priddle at the brief court appearance.

The Direct Accountability Program is an alternative to prosecution for eligible adults who have been charged with minor criminal offences and holds them accountable through community-based sanctions.

No information was available on what Priddle was required to do through this program. It’s the second time this year a Sarnia police officer has been cleared of criminal charges after completing this program.

A Sarnia police spokesperson, Const. Giovanni Sottosanti, said Wednesday they had no involvement with how the situation played out in court.

“Once charges are laid, then it goes to the Crown attorney and they deal with it in the court,” he said. “Between them and a defence lawyer.”

The court previously heard the case was being prosecuted by Chatham-Kent assistant Crown attorney James Boonstra. The Lambton Crown attorney’s office has said it would be inappropriate for them to prosecute the case as they regularly work with Sarnia police officers.

Marley made several appearances, nearly 20, in various Sarnia courtrooms on behalf of Priddle. Marley expressed frustration to the courts and told a justice of the peace it was a “deplorable” situation – due to a lack of response from Boonstra and his Crown attorney’s office.

Both Marley and Boonstra did not respond comment.

Mike Bradley, chairperson of the Sarnia police service’s board, said it would only be appropriate for Chief Norm Hansen to comment as the board isn’t involved in day-to-day operations. Hansen wasn’t available for comment on the day of the press release.

Miro Soucek, president of the Sarnia Police Association, said it would be “inappropriate” for him to comment.

“If there is any sort of hearing after the fact we’re involved, but we’re not involved in anything off-duty,” he said.

Sottosanti and Soucek both said they weren’t aware of any Police Services Act charges or disciplinary hearings as of Wednesday.

“There has been no decision made on how to proceed,” Sottosanti said.

Hansen said after the charges were laid – Chatham-Kent police investigated the May 2020 complaint – the accused officer was still working, but with some restrictions. Sottosanti admitted on Wednesday that he didn’t know what restrictions were in place over the past 14 months.

“That’s, again, between the officer and administration,” he said.

Priddle was hired as a fourth-class constable by Sarnia police in 2015 after he worked a roughly three-year stint as a court security special constable. According to sunshineliststats.com, as a first-class constable, made more than $108,000 in 2020,

Now only one of the three Sarnia police officers charged in a 12-month period between August 2020 and August 2021 still faces criminal charges. The other case, which involves charges of sexual assault and beach of trust against Const. Christopher Noordam, returns to court in December.

This article was originally sourced by Sentinel Review.