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DiVona fights to clear his name in finance appeal

Councillor Bernie DiVona was not content to sit idly by when a trio of residents took their pursuit of an audit into his campaign finances to Newmarket court last month.

A judge was expected to decide yesterday whether to grant DiVona intervener status in an appeal of a city council decision that refused an audit into DiVona’s 2006 municipal election books.

However, consideration of DiVona’s application for intervener status was adjourned until April 17.

Lawyers for Richard Lorello, Carlo DeFrancesca and Robert Zuccarini were set to argue their appeal on Feb. 5 when DiVona asked Ontario Justice Vibert A. Lampkin for intervener status, which would essentially allow him to present evidence refuting the appellants’ claims.

Lampkin gave DiVona until March 14 to file his application on the condition that the Ward 3 councillor compensate the two appellant lawyers $2,000 each for their time in court.

In addition to considering the application, on March 20 the court was set to determine a new date for the appeal.

“(Lorello, DeFrancesca and Zuccarini) are trying to bad-name the City of Vaughan council’s decision and use me as a scapegoat for their own political ends,” DiVona said last month. “I find it disgusting.”

DiVona, who has also filed a libel suit against the trio, alleged that Lorello, DeFrancesca and Zuccarini had targeted him for political reasons.

“Four individuals made an allegation against me,” he said. “They retaliated against my financial statements because they did not want a compliance audit of their candidate, and their candidate is Mayor (Linda) Jackson.

“They’re tying us together, and with the greatest sense of respect, we are completely independent.”

A dismissive Lorello brushed aside DiVona’s claim of political retribution, saying questions over the councillor’s books predate this current squabble.

“Carlo (DeFrancesca) asked for a compliance audit … for the 2003 election campaign,” the federal Conservative candidate for Vaughan said this week. “So the issue with DiVona dates a lot further back than Mayor Jackson.”

Vaughan Today
Online: March 22, 2008 [link]