Saxon vs. Wilfred Fryer and Amherstburg Police Services Board

Case Background

Saxon, Marentette and DiPasquale competed for two Sgt. positions in April, 1988. The local press reported that DiPasquale and Marentette scored highest and interviewed best and were therefore promoted. The fact is that Saxon and Marentette scored highest, and there were no interviews. As of January, 2002, Marentette is Chief of Police, 2003, DiPasquale is Deputy Chief and Saxon is a Sgt. In retrospect, 1988 was a good indication of what was to follow.

Sgt. W. Fryer was named Officer in Charge in August, 1992. When former Chief Tack resigned in September, 1992, Fryer was named Acting Chief. Despite the recommendations of an outside interview panel, the police services board appointed Fryer as Chief in April, 1993.

In December, 1995, Fryer advised Saxon that he was the subject of three Police Act charges of discreditable conduct. He received two warnings for complaints of alleged comments he made to an unknown third party and to the press in a letter to the editor (as an Association member). He was charged for the third allegation that he made comments about two fellow officers. Saxon elected to have a hearing, but in a letter to Saxon, Fryer stated he reconsidered after discussing the matter with Windsor Police Service. He would not lay a charge, but would place it in his conduct file for two years.

In July, 1996, Saxon filed a statement of claim that alleged: Fryer breached his fiduciary duties, has undertaken a course of intimidation and is interfering with his contractual duties with his employer, the Amherstburg Police Services Board. Mousseau/Deluca law firm filed a motion to have the courts dismiss the action. At an August, 1996 hearing, Judge Joseph McMahon reserved his decision. On September 26, he ruled the courts do have some jurisdiction and Saxon could proceed. Citing Praskey vs. Toronto (Metropolitan) Police Services Board, McMahon ruled "the action against the defendant (Fryer) does not arise out of any provisions in the collective agreement. It is an action against the defendant alleging misuse of powers granted to him pursuant to the Police Services Act." McMahon also granted a motion by Saxon's lawyer, Luigi DiPierdomenico, to include the Amherstburg Police Services Board as a party defendant. An amended statement of claim was filed.

On December 1, 1997, Fryer charged Saxon under the Police Services Act with three counts of disobey an order and one count of feigning illness following an investigation by London Police Service. Some fellow officers provided statements to London Police regarding their surveillance, both on and off duty, and notations on Saxon's activities.

In June, 1998, Saxon entered a plea of not guilty. Saxon's lawyer objected to Richard Pollock of Mousseau DeLuca law firm prosecuting while he represented the police services board and chief Fryer in the civil suit. The hearing officer didn't see a conflict. A judicial review was held and the judge declared the town lawyer should be removed. Not only must there be the perception of unbias, there must be unbias. After a couple of adjournments, a disciplinary hearing was held with a new prosecutor from Toronto. At the June 16, 1998 hearing, the feigning illness charge was withdrawn. In a July, 1998 decision, Inspector Ernest Tremain found "that Chief Wilfred Fryer had no lawful authority to issue orders to Constable James Saxon to divulge personal medical information." The local press reported that Saxon was found not guilty of all charges. One local paper also reported that Fryer was named the chief of the amalgamated police service, while another reported that the motion had to be rescinded.

On December 1, 1998, Fryer contacted the OPP in London to investigate Saxon for perjury, obstruction of justice, and comments made to a citizen about Fryer. As the allegations were unfounded, no charges were laid.

Where are they now?
At the end of December, 1998, Fryer retired with a severance package worth $154,262. that was agreed to on December 19, 1997 between Fryer and the outgoing police services board. (The Town of Amherstburg amalgamated with the townships of Anderdon and Malden, and a new police services board was created on January 1, 1998). In a December 29, 1998 The Amherstburg Echo article, Fryer stated, "I was really excited to be provided the opportunity to be chief, but that happy occasion was tarnished by certain individuals for vindictive reasons."

Saxon continued to be a member of the Amherstburg Police Service until his unofficial retirement on August 16, 2014; his official retirement commences December 31, 2014.