Durham cop who co-owned marijuana company gave thousands in sponsorship money to soccer club run by a police official
By: Jesse McLean
The Durham cop allowed by his force to co-own a controversial marijuana company gave thousands of dollars in sponsorship money to a soccer team run by the senior Durham police official whose department vetted the constable’s pot shop ownership application.
Chief administrative officer Stan MacLellan oversees Durham police’s human resources unit, which handled the request from veteran Const. Phil Edgar to co-own Living On Inc., a medical weed shop located in Port Perry.
A recent Star investigation found the marijuana company is unlicensed and its website offers customers drug products such as pot brownies that are illegal to sell because of concerns of overdose or unintentional ingestion by children.
Edgar, a successful businessman when he’s not patrolling the streets, sponsored the girls competitive soccer team for at least three seasons. MacLellan, a civilian employee of the Durham police, coached the team and his daughter was a player.
Team financial records for the 2012-2013 season show the gas station Edgar owns, Fill-Up Fuels, gave the team $2,000. Edgar said he likely gave similar amounts each year, but does not keep track because he sponsors numerous local sports teams and community events.
Durham cop given OK to own unlicensed marijuana shop in Scugog l September 8, 2016
In return for the money, the gas station’s name went on one of the team’s sets of jerseys.
Edgar said he and MacLellan are friends, and that his sponsorship of the soccer team had no impact on getting a green light from the force to co-own the marijuana company.
“I don’t give people anything for the purpose of getting something back. . . I love to help kids,” said Edgar.
“If (MacLellan) was good for my career, I’ve known him 10 years, why am I still a constable at the bottom of the food chain?”
In an emailed statement, MacLellan said as part of his volunteer coaching duties he “reached out to several organizations that are known to support local non-profit community programs.”
MacLellan said the donations went directly to the soccer club.
“I never received personal fundraising money,” he said. “The funds were solicited on behalf of the soccer club and I received no financial or material benefit of any nature, either directly or indirectly.”
The police force has steadfastly refused to answer questions about Edgar’s case, calling it an “employer-employee matter” that is “not open for public discussion.”
At a June police board meeting, MacLellan said the force had received a legal opinion that it would be required to approve Edgar’s application to co-own a medical marijuana company.
MacLellan did not declare any conflict of interest, according to the minutes. He told the Star the police force and the chief had no knowledge of the sponsorship money “as they were done on behalf of the Darlington Soccer Club.”
When a Durham officer wants to work a side job or have ownership in a company that may conflict or interfere with his duties as a cop, he files a request to human resources.
Human resources, which is under MacLellan’s command, sends a recommendation to the police chief on whether he should approve or deny the side job.
The chief makes the final decision.
MacLellan said he is advised on applications that “rise above” the routine request but he does not direct the final decision.
“The process is led by HR and the chief has the ultimate authority,” he said.
In the past, Durham has denied officers permission to moonlight as a bartender or security guard.
In an interview Monday, Durham police Chief Paul Martin would not address the medical marijuana case, but said generally he would expect anyone involved in the decision-making process would declare any potential conflicts of interest.
“If there is a conflict of interest, then they should remove themselves from the decision-making process, but I’m not aware of any case that would involve that,” he said.
A recent Star investigation found that medical marijuana company Living On Inc., located on First Nations land in Port Perry, was not licensed by Health Canada.
Its website also advertises various kinds of edible marijuana products — pot peanut brittle, lollypops, a weed-infused chocolate hazelnut spread called “Chrontella” — that are illegal to sell in Canada because the government says they pose a risk of overdose or unintentional ingestion by children.
After the Star began asking questions, Edgar said he “stepped back” from the marijuana company. The 22-year police veteran said he is weighing whether he wants to continue a career of policing or branch into the budding medical weed business.
He said he joined the company in December 2015 to handle promotions and filed a request for secondary employment around the same time. He left Living On in July.
Edgar owns two palatial homes nestled along Lake Scugog and a fleet of high-end cars, the product of what he described as “years of smart investments and good business practices.”
With his success, Edgar said he sponsors numerous local organizations, including giving money to cover hockey equipment costs for children. In January, he gave $600 through his gas station to sponsor a Durham police team at a charity ball hockey tournament that raised money for Sick Kids Hospital.
“I sponsor a ton of stuff. And here’s the most interesting part: you know how most people do a charity donation, what are they doing it for? Tax writeoff,” Edgar said.
Edgar said he does not claim the donations for tax credits. As a member of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, he does not pay any tax on income generated from the gas station or other businesses on First Nations land.
“This is 100 per cent loss for me,” he said.
When he made his secondary employment application, Edgar said the force’s approval was conditional on the company having “all the proper documents.”
The constable said he believes the company had and continues to have the proper licence from Health Canada, but added he was not involved in Living On’s day-to-day operations.
While Durham police remain mum about Edgar’s case, spokesman Dave Selby said, “the service would never knowingly approve a request for secondary employment that is illegal.”
If an officer quits the secondary business, MacLellan said, “the approval granted by the chief would be considered null and void.”
At a meeting Monday, members of the civilian police oversight board discussed the matter behind closed doors. The board made no statement regarding its private discussions.