The first plea in the sponsorship scandel that threatens the Paul Martin – Liberal Party government has occurred. The Globe and Mail has the story about the gulty plea of Paul Coffin to 15 fraud charges here:
Mr. Coffin, the first person charged in the scandal, had originally faced 18 counts, but three counts were withdrawn by the Crown during Tuesday’s hearing.
Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years, but the judge hearing the case indicated he won’t impose a sentence at the top end of the range.
Mr. Coffin, head of Montreal-based Communication Coffin, had been accused of submitting false or inflated invoices as part of his handling of federal sponsorships of car and mountain-bike races, among other events, between 1997 and 2002.
He was originally scheduled to go to trial on the charges early next month. Lawyers will appear in court Aug. 16 to make arguments on sentencing.
“The defence attorney said that Mr. Coffin wished to get his financial house in order and we thought it was a good idea to give him that opportunity,” Crown attorney Francois Drolet told reporters outside of court.
“After all, one month and a half is not such a long delay.”
The delay will also allow Mr. Coffin time to reimburse the government for the $1.5-million covered in Tuesday’s plea.
However, Mr. Drolet also said, even if that takes place, the Crown will likely still ask for a jail sentence in the case.
Will Paul Martin grant him clemency or commute his sentence? And why not? He has been buying off the other politicos to stay in power. This would be an easy ministerial action.
Later Tuesday, the Conservatives will try again to introduce a motion calling on the government to expand the inquiry’s mandate. The Liberals have called the motion unnecessary.
Meanwhile, six charges of fraud have also been laid against former Groupaction Marketing Inc. president Jean Brault. Mr. Brault is scheduled be tried in October along with retired civil servant Chuck GuitÃ©, who managed the sponsorship program from 1996 to 1999.
Well one down, a few more to go.
When do the pardons begin?
Read Captain Ed’s take on this story here.
Adman Paul Coffin, the first person charged in the federal sponsorship scandal, leaves a Montreal courthouse Tuesday after pleading guilty to 15 fraud charges.