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.