The afternoon of Smart’s arrest, the EPS Professional Standards Branch informed ASIRT that a “large sum” of Canadian cash had been spotted inside a Northwest Division locker assigned to Smart.
A retired Edmonton police officer accused of falsifying arrest reports and warrant documentation allegedly had $80,000 cash in his work locker at the time of his initial arrest, court documents obtained by Postmedia state.
Collin Smart, 59, was charged by Alberta’s police watchdog on Jan. 31 with 76 criminal offences, including obstruction of justice, forgery, breach of trust and misconduct by an officer executing a process.
Nadia Kelm, 60, a traffic ticket agent, is also charged with 76 offences, which the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) says relate to “19 separate occurrences in which arrest reports and the execution of warrants were falsified.”
An affidavit obtained by Postmedia offers more details about the allegations.
The document is a May 8, 2023, sworn statement from Sgt Jessica Johnson, an RCMP officer assigned to ASIRT. The affidavit was filed in support of an application by Alberta Crown prosecutors to extend the period in which it can detain Smart and Kelm’s cell phones.
Allegations in the affidavit have not been proven in court.
Johnson says the Edmonton Police Service professional standards branch began investigating Smart in April 2022 after fellow officers reported he was “executing warrants on subjects without physically coming into contact with those subjects as he claimed in notes and reports.” EPS notified the provincial director of law enforcement, who handed the case to ASIRT.
As of the affidavit’s filing, ASIRT had reviewed over 30 reports Smart completed in which he claimed he arrested people on outstanding warrants, primarily for traffic-related matters.
“In 25 of the purported arrests, legal agent and student-at-law Nadia Kelm has been identified by either the courts, the purported arrestee or both as being an agent representing those individuals on their traffic-related matters,” the affidavit states. It notes Kelm’s spouse is also a retired Edmonton police officer.
The affidavit details arrests Smart claims he made between July 2021 and May 2022. In many cases, Smart said he was approached by people asking if they had outstanding warrants, who then turned themselves in.
Based on interviews and video surveillance, Johnson believed Smart “fraudulently reported at least 17 arrests.”
In one case, Smart claims he was approached by a man at Paramount Fine Foods on May 25, 2022, and asked if he had any outstanding warrants. Smart claimed he arrested the man on a Form 7 provincial warrant and released him shortly with an appearance notice.
Investigators later obtained CCTV footage from a nearby business, which they said contradicts the claim. The footage purportedly shows the man arriving at the restaurant and talking to Kelm in the parking lot. The two then stand beside a police vehicle, talking to Smart.
The alleged arrestee told ASIRT that Kelm, who he described as his lawyer, informed him he had a suspended driver’s licence and an outstanding warrant. “Kelm arranged for him to meet the police officer in the lot to execute the warrant,” Johnson wrote, adding: “I believe that Smart did not accurately reflect the circumstances to hide his relationship with Kelm.” (The arrestee is not listed as a complainant in the charges against Kelm and Smart).
Two other alleged arrestees — both represented by Kelm — told ASIRT that despite Smart’s reports to the contrary, they had never met Smart, nor had they turned themselves in on warrants or been arrested.
One of the men, who Smart claimed turned himself in twice, “was aware that he had a warrant when he forgot to show up for a ticket,” the affidavit states. “He told Kelm about the warrant, and she told him she was dealing with it. Kelm told (him) that she ‘knew a cop’ and would talk to him, and they would get rid of everything. (The man) never met the officer.”
Johnson, a former patrol officer, said the behaviour described in Smart’s reports is unusual.
“From my time working general duty/patrol, I can only recall one instance where an individual turned themselves in to be arrested on an outstanding warrant, and never the same person twice.”
Attempt to access the locker.
ASIRT initially arrested Smart on June 2, 2022. Investigators seized his personal and work cellphones to preserve evidence and released him without charges.
That afternoon, a surveillance team tailed Smart to an Apple retailer, where he was overheard asking an employee how to locate a lost phone and remotely erase its contents, Johnson’s affidavit states.
Less than an hour later, CCTV cameras captured Smart driving into the EPS’s Northwest Division parking lot. Smart allegedly followed another vehicle inside and did not swipe his access card. A uniformed man held the door for Smart, carrying what appeared to be a gym bag.
The affidavit claims Smart was headed for the men’s change room when he was intercepted by a sergeant, who told him he had been suspended and had to leave the building.
Smart allegedly replied he was unaware of the suspension. He claimed he met with the professional standards branch the next day and wanted to go to the gym to “blow off some steam.”
That evening, surveillance teams spotted Smart and Kelm in the parking lot of an A&W in Riverbend, where they spoke for around 17 minutes. After Smart left, Kelm drove to a nearby library, where she allegedly used a public computer.
Johnson said: “I suspect Kelm used the public library to conduct queries which could not easily be linked back to her, rather than using her iPhone or returning to her residence.”
A surveillance team also seized trash outside Smart’s home and found packaging for four mobile phone SIM cards. Johnson, who also worked as an organized crime investigator, said it is common for people involved in criminal activity to have multiple SIM cards.
“I suspect that (Smart) was using various SIM cards to hide his illegal activities associated with his police work,” she stated.
The afternoon of Smart’s arrest, EPS professional standards branch informed ASIRT a “large sum” of Canadian cash had been spotted inside a Northwest Division locker assigned to Smart. Investigators obtained a search warrant and seized $80,000 from inside. The next day, Smart told a PSB investigator he wanted access to the locker, claiming he was saving the $80,000 to buy a truck.
After this article was published, defence lawyer Brian Beresh said he was representing Smart and that the cash from the locker was eventually returned to his client.
“Over the next several weeks, we will be carefully reviewing the results of this investigation (disclosure) to develop a strategy to deal with the allegations,” he said in an email. He did not elaborate on why the money was returned.
Kelm was arrested that day as a party to the alleged offences. Because she was a student-at-law, two Law Society of Alberta representatives attended to observe the arrest and the seizure of Kelm’s phone, the affidavit states.
An analysis of Smart’s phone found 182 instances of communication between Smart and Kelm’s number between July 2021 and May 2022, with activity increasing around the time of the alleged arrests. Investigators later found 18 images of driver’s licences belonging to different people. “Nine of those individuals have provided statements to ASIRT advising that they have never been arrested by or had any contact with Smart but are represented by Kelm,” the affidavit states.
Analysis of the seized phones was still underway when the affidavit was written. Smart was relieved from duty without pay on Oct. 4, 2022, and retired from EPS in January 2023 after 33 years.
Postmedia repeatedly reached out to Smart and Kelm for comment. Emails to addresses listed in the affidavit were not returned. A call to a number listed for Kelm disconnected when Postmedia mentioned the email. Smart also did not respond to a LinkedIn message.
In a statement issued following Kelm and Smart’s most recent arrests, EPS Chief Dale McFee called the case “serious” and noted that EPS initially uncovered and reported the allegations.
“We thank ASIRT for its diligent investigation and will cooperate in the forthcoming court process in whatever way is required,” he said.
Kelm and Smart’s first court appearance is scheduled for March 5.