A veteran Ontario Provincial Police officer charged today in a $15-million fraud against Canadian rail and aircraft maker Bombardier was at a mock trial at a Toronto high school last month, where a novel justice program helps instill in 15- and 16-year-old students a “sense of civic mindedness and active citizenship.”
Organizers of a mock trial held April 16 at an Etobicoke high school, Father Henry Carr Catholic Secondary School, likely didn’t know at the time that Sgt. Michael Rutigliano was under investigation in a two-year probe by the Ontario Provincial Police. Rutigliano, a 28-year vet of the OPP who was based at the Toronto detachment, is charged with nine serious crimes: corruptly give a secret commission, three counts of conspiracy, laundering proceeds of crime, fraud over $5,000, two counts of obstructing justice and breach of trust by public officer.
The allegations centre on aircraft maintenance contracts involving Bombardier’s operation in Downsview, in the Toronto area. Two Bombardier employees, who no longer work for the company, also are charged, along with a woman described by investigators as Rutigliano’s business associate.
Last month, Rutigliano was part of a performance for 700 high school kids, as he chased down a purse snatcher. The thief faced justice in a mock trial. Students played the roles of witnesses and jurors. A Crown attorney and a Toronto judge brought authenticity to the event. Organizer Vince Pileggi, a lawyer and part-time teacher, said the school’s Legal Education Advancement Program, a unique three-year justice studies program is aimed at instilling a “sense of civic mindedness and active citizenship in its students.”
We’re not pretending to teach lawyers here. Our goal is simply to instill in our students, to pique an interest in justice issues, Pileggi said. At the end of the course we hope that, rather than followers, hopefully our kids will be leaders in their chosen fields – this program will give them the spring board from which to pursue their chosen careers.
Rutigliano made a brief appearance in a Brampton court May 13 and was remanded in custody until May 15.