April 26, 2023
A case involving multiple drug trafficking offenses was dropped on Tuesday after a cop testified that he stole drug evidence and nearly died of an overdose in the police station's parking lot.
Two people facing jail time instead walked free from Ontario Superior Court due to insufficient evidence one day after a former police officer admitted to stealing two bags of cocaine from evidence and ingesting its contents in the police station parking lot, Toronto Star reported.
"Do I remember that happening? No. I'm pretty ashamed of it," Lorenzino Censoni reportedly said in court of the Sept. 2020 incident. "Do I take ownership of it? Yes."
Colleagues found Censoni with no vital signs inside his Jeep Wrangler and bleeding from the nose. The 52-year-old, who was in an induced coma for a month afterward, has ingested fentanyl, his blood work showed.
The drugs seized were obtained as part of Project Sunder, an anti-gang investigation that charged 114 alleged gang members with 800 criminal charges. Crown prosecutors did not provide a reason for the dropped charges, but the judge cited insufficient evidence.
"It's highly unusual that in the face of (Censoni's) admitted theft, and abuse of the property locker and drug exhibits, that the Crown would proceed in the first place," a defense lawyer for one of the men whose charges were dropped told The Star.
Censoni has plead guilty to theft and unlawful possession of fentanyl and received a 12-month conditional sentence. It's unclear how his conduct will affect other cases related to Project Sunder.
Around the same time, another police officer, former homicide detective Paul Worden, also took drug evidence from Censoni's division, and others, over an 18-month period. Worden admitted to stealing drugs from police evidence lockers 20 times but was never charged.
Surveillance cameras have since been added to every evidence locker in the city, according to Global.
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