Today Joe Fontana, former Mayor of London, was sentenced this afternoon to 4 months of house arrest and 18 months of probation for fraud, forgery, breach of trust and other Wite-Out® related offences for which he was convicted last month. The prosecution asked for 4-6 months in prison, while the defence thought repaying the money and some community service would be fair.
The judge described the crime as “rudimentary,” but noted that Fontana resigned in disgrace and that his reputation was in tatters. He will not be facing jail time, under the assumption that a conditional sentence met the need for denunciation and deterrence.
To refresh your memory, he admitted that with his trusty Wite-Out®, he “erased the date, the event description, and the signature at the bottom […] photocopied the document (so that no one would see gobs of Wite-Out all over it), and wrote ‘ORIGINAL’ across the top in blue pen.” He freely admitted that he did this, but though he was just “‘creating’ a new document out of convenience,” which should make it totally legal.
This stupid, and stupidly illegal, act was with the goal of expensing a $1,700 deposit to the feds, as though it was for a Ralph Goodale campaign event. The rub came when the government mailed the cheque to the club instead of Fontana, and the secret was out. To be clear, $1,700 is what Fontana made every 13 hours as an MP, so this is probably the silliest spending scandal in Canada to date.
The crown argued that this had a high degree of planning, and could only have been motivated by greed. They argued that stolen taxpayer money went towards smoked salmon and a “chocolate strawberry tree.” After a long break, the defence came back and argued that Fontana had been ridiculed. It was all very sad. In addition the house arrest and probation, he will also need to do 150 hours of volunteer work with London based charities. Lastly, he’ll need to repay the $1,700, plus a $1,000 victim surcharge.
This article has been updated with the sentence once it was given.