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HomeBusinessEx-RCMP civilian intelligence official from Abbotsford convicted of leaking secrets, to be sentenced in January

Ex-RCMP civilian intelligence official from Abbotsford convicted of leaking secrets, to be sentenced in January


Bob Mackin 

The Abbotsford man who was once the RCMP’s top civilian intelligence expert was found guilty as charged Nov. 22 by a jury in Ontario Superior Court. 

Cameron Ortis, the former director of the National Intelligence Coordination Centre, had pleaded not guilty to four counts under the Security of Information Act and breach of trust and misuse of a computer under the Criminal Code. The 12-member panel, which began hearing the case on Oct. 2, had deliberated for two days.

Cameron Ortis

Judge Robert Maranger set Jan. 12-13 for sentencing. 

Charges against Ortis included leaking information to a Richmond man jailed in the U.S. for selling modified and encrypted BlackBerry smartphones to drug traffickers. 

Much of the trial was held behind closed doors for national security reasons. Ortis testified in his own defence, although he was limited in what he could say due to the oath of secrecy he took after joined the RCMP in 2007. 

Ortis claimed that he lured four targets onto the Tutanota encrypted email system in order to gather evidence against them for an international investigation. Three of the persons of interest were involved in transnational money laundering. Another was Richmond’s Vincent Ramos, whose clients included the Hells Angels and Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel. 

During the trial, the court heard that Ortis informed Ramos that his company, Phantom Secure, was under investigation, suggested he move his servers because police knew their locations and to adjust his financial transactions to avoid detection. 

Ramos was arrested in 2018 and sentenced in 2019 to nine years in jail in the U.S. 

Ortis’s lawyer Jon Doody told the jury during closing arguments last week that there was no evidence Ortis took money. But Crown prosecutor Judy Kliewer said he had asked Ramos for $20,000. She also said civilian Ortis was neither trained nor authorized to act in an undercover role and he kept secret the crimes that led to the charges. 

Maranger confirmed the jury’s decision, thanked the members for their service and excused them from the Ottawa courtroom. He then set the two-day sentencing hearing after refusing a request from Ortis lawyer Mark Ertel to allow Ortis to remain free on bail conditions. 

Phantom Secure mastermind Vincent Ramos

“Mr. Ortis was convicted on all six counts. Presumption of innocence is now gone, bail should be revoked and it is revoked,” Maranger said. 

Ertel argued that Ortis had already spent three years in jail where he had been strip-searched 1,200 times and x-rayed 800 times “exposing him to the risk of cancer.” 

“He was then on severe house arrest and there’s no allegation of any breach of conditions,” Ertel said. 

Ertel revealed that he would probably ask for a non-jail sentence at the January hearing. 

Crown prosecutor Judy Kliewer was obviously at the other end of the scale. She said four of the counts come with maximum 14-year sentences, breach of trust a maximum five years and unauthorized use of a computer system a maximum 10 years. 

“We will be asking for some consecutive time. As I indicated last December, we will be looking for a sentence in the range of 20 years,” Kliewer said. “I am not going to say that that is what we are seeking. It may be higher, it may be lower, but it certainly is not one of time served.”

Maranger reiterated the cancellation of Ortis’s bail, but set what he called the earliest possible sentencing date.

“I don’t want Mr. Ortis languishing at the Ottawa-;Carleton Detention Centre any longer than he needs to,” Maranger said. 

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