Police allegedly planted and stole evidence in big mansion casino bust near Toronto
The case of the unreal mansion casino bust that took place near Toronto last fall and seemed more like something out of a cheesy action movie than real life is apparently falling apart now that police are being accused of planting — and stealing — key evidence.
During a lengthy investigation that was dubbed Project Endgame, York Regional Police, Ontario Provincial Police and Durham Regional Police uncovered an illegal casino and crime syndicate that was operating out of a lavish $10-million Markham mansion that is now up for sale.
This $9 million Decourcy Court palace in #Markham was the site of a high-end illegal casino and spa operation recently shut down by @YRP investigators as part of Project Endgame. More at https://t.co/3m7Ct9rNDe. pic.twitter.com/waUAx6yXC4— York Regional Police (@YRP) September 30, 2020
In a raid carried out in July and finally shared with the public in September, a shocking amount of evidence was seized at the home: gaming equipment, $10 million in assets that included $1 million in cash and $1.5 million in alcohol, and 11 firearms, which resulted in 29 people charged with more than 70 offences.
Other juicy details included in the police bust: the fact that the maximum bet at one of the illicit facility's tables was a whopping $20,000 and that braised shark fin, banned in Canada, was apparently on offer to guests.
But now, the defence is claiming that at least one piece of this evidence was planted by arresting officers, who are also alleged to have taken two high-end watches worth a combined $450,000 from the scene — jewelry that was indeed photographed but is now missing.
When braised shark fin is on the menu and the max bet at the baccarat table is $20k, you can expect plenty of cash around. To guard that cash, these suspects had guns. Lots of them. Further details at https://t.co/3m7Ct9rNDe. pic.twitter.com/hpl1eCoTSI— York Regional Police (@YRP) September 30, 2020
The counsel of homeowner 52-year-old Wei Wei has said that authorities stole the watches from his bedroom and replaced them with a gun holster to connect him to the firearms found in the home, which has led to an ongoing internal investigation of the force.
Lawyers are now asking that the investigation be turned over to a third-party organization, stating in a letter obtained by the Star that there are "grave concerns that the internal investigation into this troubling misconduct will fail to adequately probe the case."
These and other issues with the search have led to the withdrawal of all charges originally pressed against Wei, of which there were many, including keeping a gaming house (during a pandemic, no less).
His ex-wife and daughter are also no longer facing charges, as the courts made the rare move not to proceed with the case against them.
Others found to be involved in the crimes through Project Endgame, which included searches of two other locations and the seizure of even more cash and guns, are still facing charges, though their legal representation is now challenging the execution of the searches.
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