A vice-president of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is taking a paid leave of absence while Toronto police try to determine if he was in a conflict of interest by working at the lottery and the OPP at the same time.
The leave takes effect immediately, the lottery corporation announced Thursday.
Michael Sharland, a former Ontario Provincial Police superintendent, was working double-duty for the past three years as the lottery corporation's vice-president of corporate security and surveillance.
He resigned last month after Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino began investigating the potential conflict of interest posed by Mr. Sharland's dual roles.
During Sharland's time at the lottery corporation, an outside OPP constable was called in to investigate a case of alleged insider fraud at the corporation.
Const. Al Lee began to suspect his probe was being obstructed by lottery officials.
On Wednesday, the OPP asked Toronto police to do an independent probe to see if Sharland was in a conflict of interest or might have compromised the fraud investigation because he worked for the OPP and the lottery corporation.
The corporation said Sharland will stay on leave while the Toronto police probe is ongoing.
"To ensure there is no perception of a conflict of interest, Mr. Sharland will be on a paid leave of absence until the independent review is complete," Michael Gough, chair of the lottery corporation, said in a media release.
Mr. Sharland's departure comes two days after Mr. Fantino asked Toronto police to launch a probe. Mr. Sharland has become embroiled in controversy over his role in suspending a probe into allegations that a disproportionate number of lottery jackpots went to retail clerks.
A report last week from Ontario Ombudsman André Marin said dishonest retailers had swindled millions of dollars in lottery winnings from customers. The report also said Mr. Sharland sent an internal e-mail in 2004 ordering lottery staff to halt any investigations into insider wins until further notice.
Mr. Sharland is the second high-profile lottery executive to leave in recent weeks. Duncan Brown was forced to step down as chief executive officer just days before the release of the Ombudsman's report. He was paid $720,000 in severance.
The OPP was initially called in to investigate the case of 83-year-old Bob Edmonds of Coboconk, Ont., who claimed a convenience store clerk took his $250,000 winning ticket and cashed it in herself.
Edmonds, who died Monday, sued the lottery corporation in 2002 and settled for $200,000.
His story was featured last fall on the CBC's The Fifth Estate, which uncovered more cases of alleged lottery fraud committed by store clerks.
Lottery agency appoints interim CEO
Also yesterday, the government came under fire for appointing a senior Ontario civil servant as interim CEO of the lottery corporation, an agency that is supposed to be at arm's length from the government.
Michelle DiEmanuele will take a four-month leave from her job as a deputy minister in the Ministry of Government Services to lead the effort to implement the Ombudsman's recommendations for overhauling the lottery corporation. She will return to the civil service when a permanent CEO is selected.
NDP Leader Howard Hampton accused the government during Question Period of appointing someone who has partisan connections to the Liberal Party. "If you care about those innocent people who are ripped off... will you at least allow the people of Ontario a transparent appointment process?"
David Caplan, the minister responsible for the lottery corporation, told reporters the corporation's board of directors selected Ms. DiEmanuele.
She starts as interim CEO on April 16.