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Mayor ‘may hold key’ to leak info

VAUGHAN – An investigation into the source of a city hall leak has concluded that the mayor, her executive assistant and a political ally “may hold the key” to the mystery.

A June 19 report by former RCMP chief superintendent Ben Soave’s investigative firm, Ben Soave Associates (BSA), was commissioned by the City of Vaughan to uncover how and why copies of cheques and other documents were delivered to media outlets in anonymous brown envelopes late last year.

“The report speaks for itself,” Regional Councillor Joyce Frustaglio said Tuesday. “I don’t think it takes an Einstein to join the dots.”

The leaked cheques — which date from August 2007, total more than $35,000 and bear Frustaglio’s signature — were payment for work done at public city facilities, including emergency cleaning of vandalized and dirty surfaces.

The anonymous package also contained documents linking the regional councillor’s son Steve Frustaglio to the companies receiving payment, and an unsigned letter alleging a conflict of interest.

At the time, the regional councillor called the leak a “smear campaign”. An internal city investigation found no wrongdoing on Frustaglio’s part.

Soave’s report on the leak — itself apparently leaked — concluded the cheques were “most likely” photocopied by either Mayor Linda Jackson’s executive or administrative assistant, and that the copies were made by direct or indirect order of the mayor.

“I’m not commenting at this time as this investigation is still ongoing,” Jackson said in an email Monday.

The report also concluded someone in the mayor’s office gave the copies to an unidentified third party.

“On the question of why . . . the documents (were) disclosed to an external third party,” the report stated, “BSA concludes that the documents were most likely disclosed through the mayor’s office, possibly for political reasons.”

Richard Lorello, a friend of the mayor and a critic of Frustaglio, told BSA investigators he received the same anonymous package sent to Vaughan Today and other media outlets but didn’t know who the source was.

“The Ben Soave report clearly tries to paint a picture and that picture is that somehow I did something wrong,” Lorello told Vaughan Today Tuesday. “I got the documents just like you did. . . . When I called you (at the time), you already had them.”

Though the $81,000 Soave report came up shy of naming the leak, the city considers it complete, Vaughan spokesperson Madeline Zito said Tuesday. She added the city is reinforcing its confidentiality policy with staff and will be investigating staff’s action in relation to the employee code of conduct.

“The issue is not that the documents got out,” Lorello said. “The issue is they’re very disappointed that the documents got out. That they went to this extent to hire somebody like Ben Soave and spend this kind of money is just incredible.”

Vaughan Today
In print: September 18, 2009, page 3
Online: September 19, 2009 [link]