What you need to know about criminal charges linked to Thunder Bay, Ont., police

The Thunder Bay Police Service (TBPS) is back under the microscope after Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) laid a litany of charges against several people linked to the force.

Last week, former police chief Sylvie Hauth and ex-Thunder Bay police lawyer Holly Walbourne were charged with multiple obstruction and breach of trust offences. In December, OPP also charged Staff Sgt. Michael Dimini with assault, breach of trust and obstruction of justice.

“The criminal allegations brought forward by the Ontario Provincial Police are deeply disturbing,” Karen Machado, chair of the Thunder Bay Police Service Board, said Monday after charges against Hauth were announced.  

Current police Chief Darcy Fleury said the service is working to move forward constructively from the challenges he and the new oversight board inherited from previous leadership.

However, Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum said they were disappointed with the response.

And Colin Woods, president of the Thunder Bay Police Association, said many staff still want answers about how the issues within the force became so severe.

CBC News has obtained court documents providing details on the cases. Here’s more of what you need to know as the controversy continues to evolve:

What are the charges?

It’s alleged Hauth and Walbourne were “practising deception” in interactions with the Thunder Bay police board. The majority of the charges relate to obstruction of justice. The charge sheets say deception includes making statements that are false, misleading and/or omit important material information. 

The deception-linked charges were also laid in relation to interactions with the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC), an OCPC lawyer, the Toronto Police Service (TPS) and three TPS detective sergeants. The alleged incidents the charges stem from occurred between Oct. 8, 2021, and Nov. 30, 2022, according to the court documents. 

Dimini was charged with assault, breach of trust and obstruction of justice in December 2023 following an OPP investigation into incidents that allegedly occurred in August 2014, October 2016 and November 2020.

Hauth faces:

  • 2 charges of obstructing justice by “practising deception” to the Thunder Bay police board and OCPC.
  • 2 charges of obstructing public or peace officers by “practising deception” to the Thunder Bay board.
  • 1 charge of breach of trust by “practising deception” to the Thunder Bay board and OCPC.

Walbourne faces:

  • 6 charges of obstructing justice by “practising deception” to the Thunder Bay board, the OCPC and TPS.
  • 2 charges of obstructing public or peace officers by “practising deception”  to the Thunder Bay board.
  • 2 charges of breach of trust by “practising deception” to the Thunder Bay board and the OCPC.

Note: A previous story reported that Walbourne was facing 5 charges in total as of April 9, 2024. She has since been charged with 5 additional counts as of April 12, 2024. 

Dimini faces:

  • 2 charges of assault related to alleged 2 different incidents in August 2014 and October 2016.
  • 1 charge of breach of trust in connection with his duties as a police officer.
  • 1 charge of attempting to pervert justice in a judicial proceeding by making a false statement.

None of the charges against each individual has been tested or proven in court. 

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Where are they now?

Hauth is retired from the TBPS and lives in the Ottawa area. 

She was suspended with pay in 2022 after the OCPC charged her with misconduct under the Police Services Act. She retired in 2023 before those allegations could be tested in a hearing. 

Hauth’s last year on the job was marked by intense scrutiny and pressure from multiple directions. It included: 

Walbourne resigned roughly a year ago but had a retainer agreement to work with the Thunder Bay force to assist with the transition of the incoming chief, Fleury, said the TBPS and the police board in a joint statement.

The statement said Walbourne is no longer providing services in any capacity.

The Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) retained Walbourne in May 2023, said the WRPS in a statement to CBC Kitchener-Waterloo.

“As a result of allegations that are currently before the courts, WRPS has discontinued this contractual agreement,”  said a WRPS spokesperson .

Walbourne was released from custody after her arrest with instruction not to contact 112 individuals listed in court documents except for specified necessary purposes. 

Both Walbourne and Hauth are expected to make their first court appearances in May. 

Dimini is currently suspended with pay. He was also released from custody on the conditions he not possess any weapons or firearms and refrain from contacting 85 different people. His case will be in court in May.