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Local bar owner claims he was hit up for protection money

Speculation surrounding police corruption scandal spills over to Church St

ALL SHOOK UP. Janko Naglic, owner of The Barn, says he was approached for $40,000 protection money upfront plus $2,000 per week. Credit: Xtra files

With new information surfacing almost daily about the multiple police corruption scandals in Toronto, it didn’t take long for a possible Church St connection to arise.

“Somebody called me up and approached me and said he could help me out for a price and make the problems disappear,” says Janko Naglic, owner of The Barn. Naglic says he doesn’t know if it was a police officer or not, but the individual asked for $40,000 cash upfront and another $2,000 every week.

A 52 Division plainclothes unit of some 12 officers and supervisors was disbanded last week in response to allegations that members of the unit were taking protection money from downtown bars and demanding sexual favours from transsexual sex workers.

52 Division encompasses the Church and Wellesley area as well as Toronto’s entertainment district.

The Barn has been fighting a number of liquor licence infractions in recent years including overcrowding, having liquor in unlicensed areas and disorderly conduct. Would those charges have been laid if Naglic had coughed up the cash he was asked for?

This uncertainty has other downtown bar owners wondering, too. Toronto lawyer Randall Barrs, who is representing approximately 15 clubs and bars in the entertainment district and Yorkville area, told the Toronto Star that some of the owners he’s representing are “very upset” that they may have been unfairly targeted for liquor licence enforcement by 52 Division plainclothes officers.

“They all feel they have not been operating on a level playing field because they have not been paying off anybody,” said Barrs. “The police haven’t disclosed a lot of information.”

Det William McCormack Jr, a son of former Toronto police chief William McCormack, was suspended last week from his duties. Charges against McCormack and two others, including Toronto Police Association boss Rick McIntosh, are expected to be forthcoming.

This scandal is unfolding at the same time that another of McCormack’s sons is facing charges; Const Michael McCormack was one of four officers charged Monday in connection to a money-laundering and car-theft operation.

One Church St bar owner is standing behind Toronto’s cops.

“Bill McCormack was the undercover agent who worked with us to clean up drug problems,” says Michael Schwarz, owner of Fly and Hair Of The Dog. “We never gave him any money, he never asked for any money.” Schwarz says his dealings with McCormack were totally above board and says he is surprised by the allegations of corrupt dealings.