Disgraced Vancouver cop promised $50K to witness in pimp's trial, court hears

At the same time then-detective James Fisher was being cross-examined in the trial of a Vancouver pimp, he was helping another expected witness dodge charges for stabbing her ex-boyfriend, a B.C. courtroom heard Tuesday.

Lawyer Tom Arbogast, who is representing Reza Moazami in his appeal of a conviction for a bail-related offence, told a B.C. Supreme Court justice that Fisher was having inappropriate contact with the young woman in other ways as well.

"She states that Fisher promised her $50,000," Arbogast said, without specifying what the money was for. 

"Fisher was actually steering girls to [the young woman], who was acting as a madam."

Those statements are just the latest in a series of serious misconduct allegations that have been made against Fisher in recent months. 

The former detective was once a celebrated officer with the Vancouver Police Department's Counter Exploitation Unit, but his career was ended when he admitted to abusing young women who had already been exploited in the sex trade.

That includes kissing the young woman at the centre of Arbogast's latest allegations, who had testified against Moazami in his 2014 trial on dozens of charges for running an prostitution ring. 

She was also scheduled to testify against Moazami during a separate 2015 trial for breaching the conditions of his bail, but did not end up taking the stand, Arbogast told the court.

'An abuse of process problem'

He said Fisher was under cross-examination in that trial when the same young woman became a suspect in the June 8, 2015 stabbing of her ex-boyfriend in Burnaby.

"He helped [her] to cover up a stabbing incident and avoid an attempted murder charge," Arbogast said of Fisher.

The stabbing incident was outlined during Fisher's 2018 sentencing on charges of breach of trust and sexual exploitation.

According to Provincial Court Judge Robert Hamilton, the young woman admitted to Fisher that she had stabbed her ex-boyfriend, but Fisher told RCMP investigators that he didn't know how to contact her and that he understood she was only a witness to the stabbing.

VPD investigators believed that Fisher had obstructed justice, but he was not criminally charged in relation to the stabbing, Hamilton wrote.

Nonetheless, Arbogast said that Fisher's actions during Moazami's trial bring the related convictions into question.

"What we will be arguing on this appeal in this court is that there is an abuse of process problem," Arbogast said.

Government of British Columbia

Right now, he's seeking disclosure of records on the police investigation into Fisher. 

So far, about 3,300 "heavily redacted" pages have been released by Crown after "a very arduous set of negotiations," Arbogast said, but he believes there are many more.

"Figures of 15,000 pages have been floated around," he told the court Tuesday, adding that there may be as many as 24,000 pages.

3 other officers face investigation

Moazami is also appealing his convictions on dozens of human-trafficking and prostitution-related charges, charging that Fisher interfered with his right to a fair trial. 

He's alleged that Fisher had sexual contact with at least six victims and a key witness before, during and after Moazami's trial on prostitution and human trafficking charges. 

Moazami also alleges that Fisher gave the young women drugs and encouraged them to lie in court, and that the VPD was aware of issues with the detective five years before he was suspended from duty.

At least two other pimps who were arrested after investigations by the Counter Exploitation Unit are also appealing their convictions, and Fisher's actions may play a role in those appeals.

Last week, the VPD confirmed that three other officers in the same unit are facing criminal investigations in connection with Fisher's misconduct. 

A spokesperson for the police department told CBC that the investigation concerns the officers' conduct "related specifically to the Fisher investigation." The serious crimes division of the Alberta RCMP has taken over that probe.