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Criminal charges against ex-police union president dropped

Former Ottawa Police Association president Matt Skof pleaded guilty Friday to disclosing personal information in contravention of information and privacy laws, a provincial offence. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press - image credit)
Former Ottawa Police Association president Matt Skof pleaded guilty Friday to disclosing personal information in contravention of information and privacy laws, a provincial offence. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press - image credit)

The former president of the union representing sworn and civilian members of the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) pleaded guilty Friday to disclosing personal information in contravention of information and privacy laws, but criminal charges against him were withdrawn.

Matt Skof was arrested and charged in January 2019 with breach of trust and obstruction of justice following an investigation into leaked audio recordings in which he was heard discussing details of an undercover operation involving a homicide case.

That investigation resulted in a number of criminal charges, and earlier this year Skof was also charged under Ontario's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

On Friday he pleaded guilty to the provincial charge and was handed one year of probation

In a statement of facts filed as part of his plea deal on Friday, Skof agreed with prosecutors that he had shared that confidential information, which was eventually leaked.

During those conversations, Skof spoke with a civilian who had been an acquaintance since 2016 about a still-unsolved homicide case. The undercover operation was called off for unrelated reasons in November 2017.

Recordings posted online

The acquaintance recorded the conversations between July and September 2017, and edited versions of some of the exchanges were later shared with another individual who posted them online.

In a Sept. 26, 2017, call, Skof told the civilian, "I just f--king gave you something that I could probably go to jail for," and, "You have as much shit on me as I f--king have on you."

He also offered to get more information about the undercover operation for the acquaintance, who was not employed by OPS. The relationship between Skof and the other individial appears to have broken down in 2018, according to court documents.

In his submissions, Crown prosecutor Jason Nicol said it was difficult to accept that despite Scof's decades of experience in policing, he failed to appreciate that disclosing confidential details was "risky and improper."

Original source still a mystery

Court documents show Skof, who was not on active duty due to his role with the union, "denied knowing which officer on the homicide team leaked the information" to him in the first place.

"Let me be clear, that other officer should also have never disclosed those details to Mr. Skof, and in one sense, that other officer is the true genesis of the situation," Nicol said.

The prosecution also cited the lack of case law as a reason for accepting the plea deal, which carried a $5,000 fine paid by Skof to a local hospital.

In March 2019, Skof and the police association filed a $500,000 lawsuit against then chief Charles Bordeleau and the Ottawa Police Services Board for suspending Skof following the charges.

A settlement was later reached out of court. The case was dismissed on consent in February 2023, according to courthouse records. The terms are confidential.

Skof and his lawyers declined to comment as they left the courthouse Friday.