Fraud charges have been dropped against an Ontario Provincial Police detachment commander relating to the sale of a hockey stick signed by Wayne Gretzky.
Inspector June Dobson, 58, was charged with fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust following a joint investigation between the OPP and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in December, 2020. Inspector Dobson, the detachment commander for the Grenville OPP in Kemptville, Ontario. Kemptville is a small town located about 30 miles south of Ottawa and 30 miles north of the border town of Ogdensburg, NY.
The OPP and RCMP were investigating a theft of memorabilia from the Brantford, Ontario home of Walter Gretzky, the father of Wayne Gretzky. In August, 2020, items such as Wayne Gretzky game-worn jerseys, pants and gloves, as well as game-used sticks, were stolen from the Gretzky home. During the investigation, police discovered evidence that led to the arrest of Inspector Dobson, which was unrelated to the thefts.
Dobson is a longtime family friend of the Gretzky family. Walter Gretzky had given her a signed stick about ten years ago. In 2019, Dobson sold the stick for $6,000 to someone described as an avid Gretzky collector. While the stick had been used on the backyard rink by Gretzky, Dobson was arrested by the Brantford Police Service for representing the stick as game-used.
Dobson’s lawyer, Ottawa-based defense attorney Michael Edelson, released a statement to Post Media Thursday after the charges against her were dropped. The statement said she had been “falsely accused of misrepresenting a backyard hockey stick used by Wayne Gretzky when he was a young boy,” and added that his client “displayed complete visibility and transparency throughout the process.” Edelson also stated the buyer had an opportunity to examine the stick before purchasing it.
“Over the years, Inspector Dobson had been in Gretzky’s home hundreds of times and had access to everything,” Edelman’s statement said. “Inspector Dobson never accepted nor possessed any game used or worn Wayne Gretzky memorabilia and had absolutely nothing to do with the theft allegation involving (the Oakville man).
“Unfortunately, this has resulted in reputational damages to Inspector Dobson which cannot be reversed given the media spotlight.”
Edelson continued in his statement to Post Media that “The police investigation was seriously flawed from the initial stages. Obviously, the police did not explore all avenues of investigation, which would have resulted in no charges being brought against Inspector Dobson. It appears as though there was a rush to judgement to lay a charge without probing further.”
The news outlet says the ministry of the attorney general confirmed that both charges against Dobson had been withdrawn.
The original investigation was into a theft of more than $500,000 worth of Wayne Gretzky memorabilia from the Gretzky Brantford home in August, 2020. After discovering the theft, the Gretzky family contacted the Brantford Police Service. The investigation was launched, and it was quickly discovered that the items had been sold to collectors across Canada.
A three-month investigation by BPS officers, OPP and RCMP, along with the Halton Regional Police took place, with search warrants executed at five homes in Ontario and Alberta. A 58-year-old man from Oakville, Ontario, west of Toronto, was charged with theft over $5,000 and possession over $5,000. Much of the stolen memorabilia was located by police, including a number of game-used sticks, jerseys, pants, hockey gloves, and a 1983-84 Player-of-the-Year Award.
Home Was A Shrine
Walter Gretzky saved and collected the memorabilia and awards from all of his five children. While Keith and Brent Gretzky played junior and pro hockey, the famous Gretzky basement was dominated by Wayne Gretzky memorabilia and was described by many who visited the family home as the Holy Grail of Gretzky collections.
Throughout his NHL career, Wayne continued to send artifacts home to his father, including jerseys, sticks, pucks and pieces of equipment. When Wayne Gretzky’s Restaurant opened in the early 1990s, the majority of the memorabilia on display in the restaurant came from Walter Gretzky’s basement. The selection of items rivaled or bettered any Gretzky display just a few blocks away in the Hockey Hall of Fame. The restaurant was closed in October, as the building was torn down to accommodate the construction of a condo project.
“On behalf of our family, I would like to thank the Brantford Police Service, the Ontario Provincial Police, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for everything they have done regarding this investigation,” said Glen Gretzky, one of Wayne’s brothers, on behalf of the Gretzky family. “I would like to sincerely thank every member of the team; the professionalism, dedication and support they have shown has been greatly appreciated.”
Items and souvenirs from the restaurant were sold in late 2020 by Specauctions.com. Proceeds from the auction went to charity.