A Mountie who defrauded Costco of $300 in furniture and denied it during his trial undermined public confidence in Canada and its justice system, a provincial court judge said Friday.
RCMP Const. Trent Wessner was found guilty Friday of fraud under $5,000.
Judge Ronald Caryer sentenced Wessner to one day in jail and a $1,250 fine. He was led away by sheriffs and was expected to be released the same afternoon.
Caryer found Wessner took delivery of two stereo tower units from Costco in September 2010 and then made a false claim he didn’t receive them. The crime came to light when Wessner’s former spouse, RCMP Const. Randi Love, reported it to a superior officer after the couple broke up.
Caryer called Wessner “flippant and arrogant” as well as confrontational when he took the witness stand to claim he’d never taken delivery of the units, saying it was a false accusation by a spurned lover.
Love testified that Wessner was angry that a delivery driver left the units outside his garage, while he was in the backyard. He decided to claim they weren’t delivered to teach a lesson.
The case involved more than a dozen witnesses.
“Although the allegation is relatively simple, the case is anything but,” Caryer said.
The judge found the Crown’s witnesses did not collaborate with Love to make false claims and statements. Many of those witnesses said they saw the speakers shortly after they were recorded as being delivered, at a housewarming party and afterward.
“There’s no evidence to support … any (Crown) witnesses have colluded or agreed to perjure themselves.”
Crown lawyer Bill Hilderman said case law shows police officers deserve to be treated more severely for crimes than civilians. He recommended a conditional sentence order, while defence lawyer Richard Hewson asked for a conditional discharge or fine.
“I can hardly imagine someone would put their career on the line for such a small thing,” Caryer said.
But in doing so, the Mountie risked the reputation of the delivery driver and, more importantly, chipped away at confidence in everything Canada stands for.
“I’ve been in the criminal justice system for 30 or 40 years…. I’ve worked with some of the very best RCMP officers in the country,” Caryer said.
“I always found I could trust their word…. I was left with two police officers testifying before me. I knew one had to be lying. That troubled me on a personal level.”
Hewson argued Wessner’s crime was not done on duty or through his powers as a cop.
But Caryer said “it shakes our faith in our system.
“It shakes our faith in our society. This is the best place in the world to live…. We need people employed in the system to be involved and have integrity.”
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Wessner expected to face hearing
Convicted fraudster Trent Wessner is suspended without pay from the RCMP and is now likely to face a code of conduct hearing.
The lawyer acting for the 33-year-old Wessner said he was originally suspended with pay when charges were laid in 2012. Shortly after, his pay was suspended.
“The great unknown is what will happen to his employment with the RCMP,” Richard Hewson said in court Friday. “I’m told RCMP authorities will seek to dismiss him.”
Hewson said since the suspension, Wessner has found employment as a train conductor. His commonlaw spouse accompanied him in court.
A spokesman for the Mounted Police Professional Association said Wessner is likely to face a code of conduct hearing.
“I think when you’re found guilty of what they call an integrity offence, I think they’ll move to dismiss.”