>One of the key figures in a major Hamilton methamphetamine and anabolic steroid bust has been released on $100,000 bail.
Reiner Ruska, 34, was released Friday by Justice of the Peace Barbara Waugh but placed on strict conditions. The powerfully built well-known bodybuilder, who owns and operates Herc’s Nutrition store on Upper James as well as Fitness Nutrition in Grimsby, faces 18 charges in connection with the police investigation.
Ruska was ordered to reside at the Hildegard Drive home of his mother Jeselina, a registered nurse, and cannot leave the home unless in the presence of his mother or her friend Joann Swanson.
Ruska was ordered not to possess drugs or alcohol, have no contact with the other co-accused except for his brother, not to possess a cell phone or pager, and to surrender his passport to Hamilton police.
He was ordered to return to court June 8.
Ruska, a champion bodybuilder, was the main target of Project Newton, an 18-month multi-police-agency investigation that concluded this week with raids on homes and businesses in nine different municipalities and the arrest of 21 people.
Police found 26 kilograms of methamphetamine, known as crystal meth, worth $3 million on the streets, along with $1 million worth of anabolic steroids. They also seized $140,000 in cash, a number of luxury cars and the house where Ruska was living on Craigroyston Road in east Hamilton. The home belongs to his fiancée Carla Rao, who is among the 21 people charged with drug related offences in connection to the raids.
Police said Project Newton broke up a loose-knit group of people in the bodybuilding community who had been peddling steroids, crystal meth and other drugs.
A Hamilton police officer was also charged as a result of the investigation. Constable Andrew Pauls was charged with breach of trust on Thursday for allegedly leaking information to Ruska obtained from confidential police computer files. In an unrelated investigation, Pauls is charged with stealing powerful painkillers from a police evidence locker.
Ruska, who worn a dark long-sleeved shirt and sported short-cropped dark hair, was represented by Hamilton criminal lawyer Paola Konge. Bail was opposed by federal prosecutor Bradley Reitz.
A publication ban was placed on the evidence heard in the proceedings.
Reitz said outside of court that all but three of the 21 charged in Project Newton have received bail. Two others, Justin Bernard and Trevor Armstrong, are slated to appear Monday. The Crown plans to oppose bail for Bernard. A third, Martin Sukan, of Burlington will appear April 27.
The majority of the accused are schedule to make their next court appearance June 8.
Reitz said the crown also opposed bail for accused Hung Chuang Ing of Mississauga. He was released on $100,000 bail Thursday.
At Ruska’s Fitness Nutrition store in Grimsby, staff said they were shocked over the allegations against their boss.
“This is having a impact on our business,” said manager Adam Kelly. “People are staring at the store like it’s a tourist attraction.”
Kelly said the case paints the whole bodybuilding community in a bad light. “This is a legitimate business but now I’m wondering if this place is going to shut down and am I out of a job.”