A decorated OPP officer became part of the problem of the GTA’s troubled tow truck industry when he played favorites and sent more than half a million dollars worth of tugs to a tow truck company that was also featured on a reality TV show, according to one judge of the Superior Court.
const. Bindo Showan pleaded guilty to breach of trust and was given a one-year suspended sentence last week in a case that sheds light on an aspect of corruption in the tow truck industry, even bringing in an experienced officer with excellent reviews.
“The fact that this was a highly competitive industry and riddled with problems should have led the police to behave with the utmost care. However, instead of being part of the solution, Mr Showan became part of the problem,” Judge Gillian Roberts said in her speech on Thursday.
But whether Showan got a bribe herself, Roberts said she had no evidence of any kind.
“No evidence of personal gain means that the Crown has not proved to be an aggravating factor. It does not mean that the defense has proved that there was no personal gain,” she said.
Showan had nothing to say when he was approached by a CTV News reporter outside the Superior Court in Toronto.
Showan admitted in court that instead of following the first available tow truck policy, he sent more than $500,000 in tow orders to companies run by Steve Pillay, whose full name is Sutheshkumar Sitthambarpillay.
Pillay was a regular on the reality show “Heavy Rescue 401” on Discovery, which, like CTV News, is a division of Bell Media. He also gave interviews to CTV News Toronto for several drag-related stories.
Of all the tows referred by Showan in a two-year period, about 78 percent of them went to companies controlled by Pillay, Roberts said. It came down to about 250 drags, or more than two a week.
The couple communicated regularly over the phone, with their conversations being intercepted by the OPP. Officers also followed Showan, the judge said, but that surveillance was interrupted when Const. Showan – experienced in undercover work himself – noticed the officers and he stopped referring to tows.
In 2021, officers accused him of breach of trust and accepting benefits — one of four OPP officers charged at the time.
This isn’t the only series of crimes associated with the GTA’s troubled tow truck industry. Last year the court heard how the Toronto Police Project Kraken attacked the tow trucks involved in violent robberies.
There have also been arson, murder and one guilty plea last week related to obstruction of justice – the obscuring of evidence at a shooting at a Scarborough gas bar, where video shows two tow trucks waiting nearby, their engines on.
A Toronto police officer, Ronald Joseph, is accused of collecting kickbacks for collision tips, staging a collision and sharing a police radio – charges that have not been proven in court.
OPP officers were reminded several times not to play favorites, Roberts said Thursday. Since Showan’s arrest, the OPP has also introduced new checks and balances for its officers.
And on 400 series highways in the GTA, there are now new rules where only certain companies are allowed to operate.