Cheese smuggling cop quits
Niagara Regional Police officer Scott Heron enters the courthouse in Welland in this file photo.
Notorious cheese smuggler Scott Heron has turned in his Niagara Regional Police officer’s badge.
On July 7, the same day court rejected an appeal of his breach of trust conviction, Heron resigned from the NRP, according to a police press release.
Heron was facing an internal NRP misconduct hearing, which was shut down in light of Heron’s resignation.
Heron’s cheese smuggling scheme began in 2009 when he asked his fellow officer, now-former NRP Constable Geoff Purdie, to run contraband cheese into Canada from a pizzeria in Buffalo, New York. They also smuggled chicken wings into the country.
The cheese was then fenced to Niagara restaurants at a discount made possible because, by smuggling the cheese, Heron avoided significant duty charges at the border.
Heron’s scheme brought in around $133,000 worth of cheese and avoided $325,000 in duties.
The smuggling operation ran until 2012, when a joint NRP, Canadian Border Services Agency and U.S. Department of Homeland Security investigation was launched.
Much of the Crown’s case against Heron depended on testimony from Purdie, whose own NRP career ended after he was convicted in 2013 of smuggling steroids into the United States from Canada.
Purdie was sentenced to a year in an American prison and testifying against Heron was part of his plea agreement.
In September 2015, Heron was convicted of three smuggling related charges and one count of breach of trust.
The breach of trust charge stemmed from Heron’s use of the Canadian Police Information Check database — or CPIC — to determine if he and Purdie were under investigation. All police officers have access to CPIC, but are only allowed to use it in the legitimate course of their duties.
Heron, who has already served a three-month prison sentence for the cheese smuggling, appealed the breach of trust conviction because there were “serious implications for his continued employment as a police officer if the sentence remains on his record,” his lawyer Andrew Furgiuele told the court.
The court denied Heron’s appeal, saying there was overwhelming reasons to conclude he used CPIC to see if his smuggling operation was under police investigation.
On Monday, the NRP issued a press release that said the professional standard’s unit investigation into Heron’s cheese running operation was deferred pending the outcome of the criminal trial.
A Police Services Act hearing was scheduled for Monday and was to be presided over by retired Ontario Provincial Police Superintendent Stuart McDonald.
However, since Heron had resigned, the Police Services Act no longer has jurisdiction over Heron, and the hearing was concluded.