Fraud charges dropped against Barrie police officer
Fraud charges laid against a Barrie police officer because of her off-duty conduct have been withdrawn, and now her lawyer has harsh words for the force that arrested one of its own.
"I think it's tragic what happened to Nicole," said defence lawyer Peter Brauti.
Brauti said he's perplexed about why Const. Nicole Hankin, a 13-year Barrie police officer, was charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000 and one count of possessing proceeds of crime over $5,000.
Brauti said Hankin's work as a coach with the Mariposa School of Skating led to the charges.
Hankin started coaching while on medical leave from the service, one Brauti explained wasn't over a physical ailment.
"It was suggested that this would be a good therapeutic fix for her to gently get involved in these kinds of activities," he said.
Brauti said Hankin was paid a little over $5,000 over a few years as a coach.
He said the Barrie Police Service suggested it wasn't informed.
"Nicole had made disclosure of that," he said. "The Barrie police were aware that she was being paid as a skating coach."
In a statement, Barrie Police Association president, John Brooks, said that they would not provide comment about the situation because "we have not received an official notice on the completion of court. I hope you can respect that we will refrain from comment until we receive factual and official information on the outcome of the proceedings."
Barrie Police Chief Kimberley Greenwood also declined an interview with CTV.
Instead, a statement was sent on her behalf. It reads, "A Police Services Act investigation into the conduct of Constable Nicole Hankin continues to be active. Her suspension from duty is currently being reviewed."
Brauti thinks an outside police service should have looked into the case, but CTV Public Safety Analyst Chris Lewis said it's not unusual for police services to investigate one of their own in minor criminal matters, like a fraud.
"Until it gets to the point that there's great public interest and therefore they decide to go outside just to remove any perception of potential of bias," Lewis noted.
While the criminal charges have been withdrawn, Brauti said he still has concerns.
"I'm going to take another hard look at this file to see if there might be people within that service that now need to be held accountable," the lawyer said.
Brauti added that he's concerned about the damage done to Hankin's reputation.
"If you didn't know the back story, and you just knew Nicole Hankin was charged with proceeds of crime, you'd almost think she was a mob boss instead of a children's skating coach," he concluded.