For more than three years, Edmonton police Det. Dan Behiels investigated notorious Edmonton landlord Abdullah Shah and some of his alleged accomplices. In January 2021, when the investigation concluded and no charges were laid, a frustrated Behiels took the extraordinary step of leaking the confidential investigative documents to CBC News. He is now suspended and facing disciplinary charges. CBC Edmonton’s new series — Behind the blue line: Investigating Abdullah Shah — digs into those documents and why Behiels decided to put his career on the line for them.
Edmonton police Det. Dan Behiels is resigned to the fact that his 11-year policing career might well be over.
For more than three years, Behiels investigated notorious convicted criminal Abdullah Shah (also known as Carmen Pervez) and his alleged fraudulent dealings conducted through his company, Home Placement Systems (HPS).
The investigation, known as Project Fisk, looked to dismantle an alleged criminal organization Shah — who has a lengthy police history including drug trafficking and a $30-million mortgage fraud — was suspected of running.
Launched in 2019, Project Fisk was to investigate alleged money laundering, tax evasion, organized crime, drug trafficking, human trafficking, violent assaults and fraud linked to HPS.
The allegations are contained in a 101-page provincial court document called an Information to Obtain that was filed in July 2019 to obtain search warrants on a number of properties connected to Shah. The ITO is a snapshot of the investigation at the time it’s filed.
But when the Crown decided in January of this year to not lay criminal charges and police dropped the investigation, Behiels, 39, grew increasingly concerned that justice, in his eyes, would not be served.
“Through 2016 to 2018, approximately 10 per cent of Edmonton’s homicides occurred in a property owned or controlled by Shah, and his influence over the street-level gang activities of the Redd Alert were expanding,” Behiels wrote in a letter to police Chief Dale McFee in January.
“Increasingly violent offences were found to occur at an inordinate frequency at these properties due to [Shah] housing and supplying drugs to the street level gangs.”
Feeling like he had exhausted every option, Behiels turned whistleblower.
He handed over a thumb drive to CBC Edmonton. It contained 64 gigabytes of documents detailing work conducted by the EPS in their investigation of Shah and his alleged accomplices.
The information was the culmination of thousands of hours of police work in an investigation that he ultimately led.
Two days after he leaked the highly confidential information, Behiels confessed his actions in an emailed report to the police chief.
He was immediately placed on administrative leave and on Feb. 4 was suspended with pay.
“It’s never been my practice to do things in a backhanded or a deceitful way,” Behiels said in an interview.
“I know it was against my duty even if it was abiding my conscience. So I had a responsibility to do that as well.”
Who is Abdullah Shah?
Shah first came onto Behiels’ radar in 2015 when Behiels was on downtown patrol duty, responding regularly to 911 calls.
“I saw a pattern of going to the same properties,” Behiels said.
“After we’re done searching a property or containing a scene, the same landlords would show up and that’s how I became familiar with Carmen Pervez.”
Those properties were part of a portfolio of houses and apartments owned by HPS and Shah associates.
Shah has been the subject of a number of EPS investigations and has a criminal record that dates back to 1983.
In 1994, he was sentenced to four years in prison for producing and trafficking methamphetamine.
After he was released, Shah established a complex mortgage fraud ring involving 165 residential and commercial properties in central Edmonton.
In February 2008, he was sentenced to six years in prison for mortgage fraud by an Edmonton judge who called him “the controlling mind of this fraudulent scheme,” according to parole board documents.
He was given credit for pretrial custody and served less than two years. He was released on June 4, 2009.
In 2010, Pervez legally changed his name to Abdullah Shah. Once again he began collecting a stable of residential and commercial properties through HPS.
The 59-year-old’s problems with the law have continued. He faces a preliminary hearing in January on four counts of trafficking fentanyl.
Shah is currently on probation. He was sentenced to a year of house arrest and probation after admitting last December that he had paid people to assault a former employee.
On Aug. 13 of this year, Shah was shot in the jaw at one of his inner-city properties. He has been released from hospital. No one has been arrested in connection with the shooting.
CBC News requested an interview with Shah in June and again in September through his lawyer, Paul Moreau. They turned down the requests.
Moreau has described Project Fisk as “a witch hunt” driven by “tunnel vision.”
‘Intelligence gaps’ in investigation
Investigators spent 2018 gathering intelligence on Shah and associates connected to Home Placement Systems (HPS), a company run by Shah. The investigation was called Project Fledermaus, which was a precursor to Project Fisk.
It was designed to collect enough information to convince ALERT — the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams — to launch a criminal organization investigation.
Funded by the provincial government, ALERT was created with the objective of tackling serious and organized crime. A spokesperson refused comment when contacted about this story.
EPS presented its case to ALERT on Dec. 3, 2018. In January, 2019, Behiels met with acting police chief Kevin Brezinski to discuss the file. ALERT declined intake and the file was closed without further investigation.
In an August 2021 email to CBC News, Brezinski said he was not involved in ALERT’s decision, which had already been made by the time he met with Behiels.
“ALERT advised EPS that there were several intelligence gaps within the investigation, that some of the intelligence being relied upon would not stand up in court, and ultimately the file did not meet ALERT’s mandate for intake,” Brezinski wrote.
“Det. Behiels was encouraged to continue working through the investigation to rectify the outlined issues.”
At that point, Edmonton police Insp. Peter Bruni-Bossio authorized Behiels and his partner to launch a new investigation. They partnered with the Canada Revenue Agency and named it Project Fisk.
Their targets were Shah, HPS and the people who worked with Shah.
The execution of search warrants in July 2019 were part of Project Fisk but did not ultimately lead to any criminal charges before the investigation was called off.
Allegations of corruption lead to investigations
In his January 2021 report to McFee, Behiels wrote: “I believe that members of the Edmonton Police Service have engaged in corrupt acts that have effectively insulated this criminal organization from investigation and prosecution.”
Behiels had made a similar allegation in a March 2019 report to McFee.
CBC News requested an interview with the police chief. The request was denied.
EPS spokesperson Cheryl Sheppard confirmed in late July that the internal concerns raised by Behiels beginning in 2019 were forwarded to the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the province’s police watchdog. Behiels was interviewed by an investigator.
“It was determined that the allegations were not believed to be criminal and that EPS would retain the file,” Sheppard wrote. “Given the nature of the allegations, the EPS felt it would be more appropriate for an outside agency to investigate.”
Edmonton police passed along Behiels’ concerns to the Calgary Police Service (CPS) first in 2019 and again in 2021.
The CPS anti-corruption unit investigated Behiels’ allegations for more than two years. The investigation was called Operation Achilles. Behiels was interviewed, as were a number of other Edmonton police officers.
On July 26, 2021, the investigating detective with Calgary police notified Behiels by email that the CPS investigation had concluded “and found that the evidence did not support or meet the threshold for criminal charges.”
Four days later, EPS spokesperson Sheppard noted in an email to CBC that the “extensive” investigation by Calgary police found “no criminality or evidence of corruption by the EPS and its members.”
Behiels, however, said he believes the public deserves to know more of the story.
To date, no disciplinary charges have been laid against Behiels, but he received official notice in late July that he is being investigated for breach of trust, discreditable conduct and insubordination related to the release of highly confidential information to the media.
“I think it’s likely that I’ll be suspended without pay or fired based on this action,” Behiels said. “I still wouldn’t choose another way to do it, so I have to live with that.”
Coming up tomorrow: Project Fisk and the Shah operation.
BJP big guns to lend Himachal CM Jai Ram Thakur a hand as corruption, factions mount hurdles
7 mins ago
May 27, 2022
However, it may not be all smooth for the party in the hilly state.
Corruption charges against officials, including in the unravelling police recruitment paper leak scam, allegations that the Chief Minister’s Office is protecting them and delaying investigation, intensified factionalism, the inability of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur to take everyone along, and simmering disillusionment among youth over joblessness are among the issues, party men fear, which are dragging down the BJP as it seeks to overcome anti-incumbency.
Outspoken former CM and party veteran Shanta Kumar earlier this week voiced this discontent, when he hailed AAP leader and Punjab CM Punjab Bhagwant Mann for taking “an extremely courageous step” against corruption, by sacking and arresting his own minister over bribery allegations. Kumar said there should be no tolerance towards corruption and every government should adopt transparency.
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Among those fending off allegations of corruption in Himachal is CM Thakur’s top official, Chief Secretary Ram Subhag Singh. The Prime Minister’s Office had also flagged the alleged irregularities in the construction of the Wildlife Interpretation Centre in Nagrota, when Singh had been additional chief secretary in the Forest Department, sources said. The CM is seen to be delaying the investigation against Singh.
In the constable recruitment examination held in March – the biggest such recruitment after the pandemic – question papers were allegedly sold for Rs 6-10 lakh to more than a thousand applicants. An investigation has indicated the involvement of several officials.
As pressure mounts on Thakur, the many factions within the BJP have raised their heads. “Leaders like former chief minister P K Dhumal, his son (Union minister) Anurag Thakur, Shanta Kumar, Nadda, Rajya Sabha MP Indu Goswami, Jai Ram Thakur himself… all have groups within the state unit,” a party leader said.
The rival leaders have been biding their chance since the BJP’s humiliating defeat in several by-elections last year, including for the Mandi Lok Sabha constituency and the Arki, Fatehpur and Jubbal-Kotkhai Assembly seats.
Himachal BJP chief Suresh Kumar Kashyap played down the corruption allegations, saying the Thakur government had handled them seriously. “People have seen the government handing over the recruitment scam case to the CBI. There will be action against the culprits. It is also taking steps to conduct the exam soon,” he told The Indian Express, adding that the Opposition would not be able to gain advantage from the issue.
Kashyap also asserted that both the government and party were working in tandem to ensure the BJP returns to power.
While the BJP’s eyes have been largely on AAP, which is focused on Himachal Pradesh after the spectacular win in neighbouring Punjab, the Congress too is getting its act together.
A source said Mandi MP Pratibha Singh, who was handed over the reins of the Congress recently, and her son Vikramaditya have started bringing about good changes in Upper Himachal Pradesh.
“The Youth Congress is taking up the recruitment scam issue in a big way. With unemployment an issue among the youth in Himachal Pradesh, it is striking the right chords,” he said.
All expectations now rest on Modi’s Shimla rally, where he will address “the major concerns” of the hill state. “Things will be different after the Prime Minister’s visit,” a leader said.
Williamsport man charged with indecent assault, corruption of minors | News
1 hour ago
May 27, 2022
Williamsport, Pa. — A Williamsport man was charged after an investigation into accusations of indecent assault made in 2021.
Troy Bennett Bailey, 55, allegedly assaulted a 10-year-old relative several times, according to a police affidavit.
Police said Bailey allegedly demanded the accuser to touch him and showed pornographic movies. Bailey exposed himself to the accuser and told them to rub his genitals approximately four times throughout 2019, police said.
According to the affidavit, Bailey was 53 years old at the time of the incidents.
Bailey was charged with four third-degree felonies that included indecent assault of a person less than 13 years of age, disseminate explicit material to minors, corruptions of minors, and four counts of unlawful contact with a minor. He was also charged with four counts of first-degree misdemeanor indecent exposure.
Bailey is scheduled to appear in court on May 31 for a preliminary hearing with Judge Christian Frey.
He is incarcerated at the Lycoming County Prison in lieu of $150,000 monetary bail.
NEWARK — Punctuating one of the worst police scandals in Paterson history, a federal jury on Thursday found Sgt. Michael Cheff guilty of civil rights crimes, making him the sixth member of the self-proclaimed “robbery squad” of cops to be convicted.
The verdict followed five days of testimony in which Cheff’s five co-conspirators admitted to robbing, beating and abusing people they illegally stopped and searched in Paterson – and later joking about their crimes in text messages that became key evidence for the government.
Federal prosecutors repeatedly told the jury in the trial that Cheff was the pivotal man in the scheme, the “inside guy” who allowed the rogue cops to prey upon Paterson residents. Cheff, who joined the Paterson force in 1996, helped them cover up their crimes with bogus police reports and sometimes took a share of the cash they stole, according to prosecutors.
The jury didn’t buy assertions by Cheff’s lawyer that the sergeant was simply “an easy-going” boss who was taken advantage of by the five criminals he supervised – Jonathan Bustios, Daniel Pent, Eudy Ramos, Frank Toledo and Matthew Torres.
Cheff’s conviction represents the final victory for the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office in a probe in which eight city cops were convicted over the course of four years, the officers falling like dominoes as they lined up to testify against each other.
The five fired cops who testified against Cheff had signed cooperation agreements that promised federal prosecutors would submit letters to the judge recommending they get a break on their jail time.
What impact their testimony and those agreements will have on their prison terms remains to be seen. Though the men pleaded guilty to their crimes more than two years ago, federal authorities have delayed their sentencing until after the Cheff case.
The FBI probe also snared a Paterson officer, Ruben McAusland, who had been regularly selling drugs from his patrol vehicle while on duty and in uniform in 2017 and 2018. When federal agents arrested McCausland they found on his phone a video of him brutally assaulting a suicide patient in a hospital emergency room, resulting in a separate case in which he and his police partner, Roger Then, were convicted.
Federal authorities previously had said Cheff faced a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the false records charge and 10 years for the civil rights conspiracy.