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Man says he was framed in car thefts from home of RCMP Constable Amit Goyal
Steve Condon believes he was set up to take the blame for a pair of apparent auto thefts last fall from the home of an RCMP officer.
On Halloween night last year, a 2009 black Audi S5 owned by Constable Amit Goyal was reported stolen from a residence on Cottonwood Drive.
A week later, a 2008 black Ford Ranger belonging to Collision Craft Auto and on loan to Goyal was reported stolen from the same location. Six days later the charred remains of the burned out truck were found on Anarchist Mountain.
In June, Goyal apparently left Osoyoos under circumstances the RCMP refuse to discuss.
When the Osoyoos Times asked Osoyoos Detachment Area Commander Sgt. Kevin Schur on June 27 about why Goyal appeared to be gone, Schur sent a reply by email.
“I’m not in a position to confirm or deny any investigation at this point. As always, we have a commitment to transparency and if a member of the RCMP is charged with a criminal offence we will issue a news release with that information,” Schur wrote.
The Osoyoos Times has not been successful in reaching Goyal for comment. Goyal has not been charged with any offence. Nor has the Osoyoos Times been able to confirm that he is the subject of any investigation for wrongdoing relating to these incidents.
Condon, 51, who acknowledges that he has a criminal record for offences including impaired driving and driving while disqualified, says he had a number of run-ins with Goyal dating back to more than a year prior to the vehicle thefts.
After the thefts occurred, he was fingered as the main suspect. The scrutiny, rumours and harassment became so intolerable for him that he moved from Osoyoos to Surrey late in November, he said.
Although RCMP will say nothing about the investigation, the Osoyoos Times has learned it was turned over to the RCMP in Trail, B.C. because of Goyal’s involvement.
Sgt. Mike Wicentowich in Trail declined to confirm that he supervised the investigation and said he has been instructed to refer any inquiries to RCMP Media Relations spokesman Cpl. Dan Moskaluk.
Moskaluk is currently away from his office and could not be reached for comment.
Condon said RCMP officers from Trail flew down on four occasions to interview him extensively in Burnaby between February and May 2013.
They told him they knew he committed the thefts and tried to push him to confess, he said. He was taken into custody and one time was questioned for more than four hours, he added.
Finally, Condon told police he was willing to take a polygraph, a lie detector, in order to clear his name. This was arranged, and one Saturday morning in May at 8:30 a.m. he went to the RCMP detachment in Langley to submit to the test, he said.
His session lasted several hours into the afternoon, but Condon said he passed with flying colours. From that point on, he ceased to be a suspect, he said.
Condon said he told police they should look into Goyal’s involvement in the incident.
Goyal had purchased the Audi from Roger Agostinho at Collision Craft Auto in Osoyoos, who also did extensive work on the car. Condon, who has experience buying and selling vehicles, estimates the car’s value at around $50,000, a figure confirmed by other sources familiar with Goyal’s car.
After the Audi was reported stolen, Agostinho provided Goyal with the 2008 Ford Ranger loaner, which was subsequently reported stolen and later was found burned.
Agostinho declined to be interviewed saying he will only comment after the RCMP have commented on the case.
When first approached by the Osoyoos Times, he was concerned a story might reflect badly on the RCMP. He also said he did nothing wrong and all he did “was sell a guy a car.”
Goyal was long committed to removing impaired drivers from the road.
On May 29, shortly before he apparently left, Osoyoos RCMP issued a news release stating that for the third time in four years, Goyal was recognized “as a member of Alexa’s Team for his outstanding commitment in 2012 to removing impaired drivers from the road.”
In order to be nominated to Alexa’s Team, a police officer must have removed 12 or more impaired drivers from the road. Goyal was the only officer in Osoyoos to achieve this recognition.
The honour is named after Alexa Middelaer who at age four in 2008 was killed by an impaired driver in Delta, B.C.
Goyal did not respond to requests for an interview at the time. On June 14, Osoyoos RCMP contacted the Osoyoos Times to request that the paper not run the news release until further notice.
Days later, Goyal’s name was dropped from the RCMP news release email distribution list.
His departure has also thrown a wrench into the criminal court system.
Lawyers in Penticton confirmed that in cases where Goyal is a key witness, trials are not proceeding and accused are walking free.
During several lengthy interviews with the Osoyoos Times, Condon remained composed, recounting incidents in detail, details that were subsequently corroborated by others who did not wish to be named in this story.
Twice, however, Condon broke down in tears. When asked about the toll that being falsely accused took on him, he admits it’s been very hard on his family.
“They (RCMP) put me through hell,” he said.
He became even more upset, however, when his lawyer told him the person he believes committed the crimes will not likely be prosecuted. And, unless that person is charged, some people will continue to look at Condon with suspicion.
“It’s a difficult thing,” said Condon. “I want to see justice done and get on with life, but it’s kind of hard to have this hanging over my head.”