“I Do” Plead Not Guilty to Fraud Charges by Vicky Medeiros

Trial commenced on May 26, 2014 for Mayor Joe Fontana of London, Ontario who pled not guilty to fraud charges in which he was accused of using government money to pay for a portion of his son Michael Fontana’s wedding reception at the Marconi Club in June of 2005. The allegations arose after the club received a government issued cheque for $1,700 which was believed by the club to be the deposit for wedding reception. The Mayor, who at the time was a Liberal MP, is charged with breach of trust by a public official, fraud under $5000, and uttering a forged document.

Defence for Fontana claims that Fontana booked the hall at the Marconi Club for February 25, 2005 for a reception for Liberal MP Ralph Goodale. Although Fontana had to cancel the hall at the last minute and was “too busy” to get a formal invoice from the club, Fontana felt that the deposit amount of $1,700 was still due to the club. Fontana admitted to altering the Marconi Club hall rental agreement which was originally for his son’s wedding reception to correspond with the cancelled Goodale event and submitted it to the House of Commons for payment. When a government-issued cheque was received by the Marconi Club, it was applied as payment for the deposit for the Fontana wedding. Mayor Fontana claimed that he did not act fraudulently and the allegations were based on poor bookkeeping by the Marconi Club.

However, the Crown alleges that Fontana purposely made seven changes to the hall rental agreement for the wedding reception in hopes that the government-issued cheque would be sent to Fontana instead of directly to the club. The Crown believes, based on the different methods of payment received by the Marconi Club, that when Mayor Fontana submitted payment for the remaining balance of the hall rental, he intentionally underpaid by $1,700 as he was aware the government-issued cheque would be applied to the remainder of the balance.

Though closing arguments were made by both the Crown and defence on May 29, 2014, the fate of the London Mayor will not be disclosed until the judge makes his final verdict on June 13, 2014.



About the Author

Paralegal Student
Communications Students.

5 Comments on "“I Do” Plead Not Guilty to Fraud Charges by Vicky Medeiros"

  1. I hope this guy gets the book thrown at him. This guy most likely makes great money for not doing much and yet he took advantage of the city.

  2. Paralegal Student | June 8, 2014 at 1:02 pm |

    Response by Ashlin Kenuck
    It is unfortunate that there are so many cases of MPs abusing tax payer’s money. What is most shocking to me is that the fraudulent actions of Joe Fontana happened in 2005 and the issue is just being brought to court. Not only has he abused his privileges with access to government funds but he is now contributing to the already backlogged courts wasting more of tax payer’s money. His accusations of poor bookkeeping by the Marconi Club are a poor defense. He altered contracts and committed fraud, this is not the type of person who should be representing citizens of London, Ontario. He needs to own up to his actions and repay taxpayers misspent money. Last time I checked I cannot request my local MP to place a down payment for my wedding, it is not right for Mr. Fontana to use government funding for his son’s wedding.

  3. Jason E Lau | June 8, 2014 at 4:13 pm |

    I’m also curious how this affects his position as mayor. Regardless how much or where the money was spent towards, I think this is a fundamental breach based on the principle of trust. His role, as Mayor, is to be entrusted with a great deal of public responsibility, one of which is the finances. Whether is several thousand dollars are a few hundred, he is not entitled to use that money in any way except to help the public. Moreover, the fact that he tried to hide, and got caught, is even worse. However, we could contrast this against our own Maybe, Mayor Ford. Although he has substance abuse problems, one can not argue that Mayor Ford had fraudulently used public funds for person reasons.

  4. Vicky Medeiros | June 8, 2014 at 10:14 pm |

    I agree that Joe Fontana should have the book thrown at him. Political figures more often than not abuse their power and tax payer’s money and are rarely punished as severely as they should be. Fontana should be made an example of. The most unfortunate thing is that he is still in office as London’s mayor and the only way he can be removed from office is if he is convicted. I acknowledge that one is innocent until proven guilty, but his scandal, as well as Rob Ford’s ridiculous behaviour, is creating such negative publicity for our province. I guess we will just have to wait and see what the judge has to say on June 13th.

  5. Adam Bustamante | June 12, 2014 at 12:33 pm |

    Was Fontana forced to leave his job as MP? Do you know how exactly the different methods of payment prove he knowingly underpaid?

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