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Charges against DiVona sought

Council hires prosecutor to look into councillor’s alleged campaign contraventions

Councillor Bernie DiVona’s political fate is now in the hands of the city’s independent prosecutor.

At a special meeting Tuesday, DiVona’s colleagues heard advice from Timothy Wilkin that DiVona should be charged for apparent contraventions of the Municipal Elections Act uncovered in an audit of his 2006 campaign books. Council agreed to retain Wilkin to pursue charges against DiVona.

Auditors Ken Froese and Glen Davison found several instances of alleged wrongdoing in DiVona’s campaign records, including the alleged personal use of campaign funds for things like a suit and roof repairs to his home.

Froese and Davison also found DiVona overspent his $26,476 campaign limit by as much as 97 percent.

In their in initial report, released April 24, the auditors said DiVona may have overspent his limit by as much as 109 percent. They revised their findings after receiving new information.

“Based on additional information and analysis in the (auditors’) second report, the auditor has reallocated $5,044,” DiVona’s lawyer Eric Gillespie wrote in a May 12 letter to the city. “This has reduced any apparent spending above the expense limit.

“DiVona and others are continuing to gather more information and analysis that we believe upon further review may well reduce the allocation of these expenses to an amount below the permitted limit.”

In the initial report, the auditors said DiVona had allegedly spent $3,052 of his campaign funds on personal expenses. But in their update, delivered to council May 8, that figure rose to $6,176.

DiVona could face removal from office if found guilty of the most serious allegations contained in the audit report and fines of up to $5,000 for each offence.

Wilkin recently laid Municipal Elections Act charges against Mayor Linda Jackson and Mario Campese, her husband and 2006 campaign manager, after a court-ordered review of her election books.

The audit into the Ward 3 councillor’s campaign expenses was court-ordered in October after Vaughan residents Carlo DeFrancesca, Robert Zuccarini and Richard Lorello appealed an earlier council decision to deny one.

Vaughan Today
In print: May 15, 2009, page 3
Online: May 14, 2009 [link]