Fontana Guilty On All Charges
Joe Fontana is officially a convicted criminal.
At the London courthouse Friday morning, Justice Bruce Thomas found the mayor guilty of fraud under $5,000, uttering forged documents, and breach of trust.
After the verdict was read, a teary-eyed Fontana rose and hugged his wife. Lawyers will submit their arguments for sentencing on July 15.
Speaking to reports outside the courhouse, Fontana would not say if he will resign as mayor.
“I will make a statement in the near future with regards to what I intend to do. I obviously need to digest what has taken place, talk to my legal team and look at what I’m going to do.”
In his remarks prior to announcing the verdict, Justice Thomas said he believes the cheque that ended up at the Marconi Club was meant for Fontana, and if it hadn’t gone to the Marconi Club “no one would have been the wiser”.
“I find as a fact that Joseph Fontana forged the document… He did so with the intent that the House of Commons comptroller would view it as genuine and legitimate and pay $1,700 directly to him,” Justice Thomas told the court while reading his decision into the record. “He saw his opportunity when viewing his son’s reception contract and being aware of the possibilities provided by the cancelled reception.”
Thomas said he accepted that there was a cancelled event for Ralph Goodale on Frebruary 25, 2005, but said he didn’t believe the government owed the Marconi Club $1,700.
“By submitting a fraudulent document for reimbursement for an event that never happened, for an amount that was not communicated to him in connection with the political event,” Thomas concluded. “He abused the public trust and used his public office for a purpose other than the public good.”
Justice Thomas ended his remarks by protecting the credibility of the House of Commons comptroller Michel Champagne who testified for the Crown.
“It has been suggested that this is an example where ‘the money flows easily’ and the review of expenses is no more than a nod and a wink. It must be remembered that here Mr. Champagne was relying upon a document forged by a sitting M.P. This is an extreme case,” Thomas stressed about Champagne and his staff. “They should not shoulder the blame for these criminal acts.”
Fontana’s lawyer Gord Cudmore spoke to the media after the verdict. He says if Fontana appeals he would be involved, but would not take the lead. Cudmore says he was disappointed with the ruling and his team will be analyzing the judgment.
Read Justice Thomas’ full decision HERE.