A 69-year-old businessman has been sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay $450,000 in restitution for his involvement in a 2006 spending scandal in Newfoundland and Labrador's legislature.
John Hand, 69, pleaded guilty in April to fraud over $5,000, frauds on the government and breach of probation.
At a sentencing hearing last December, Crown attorney Vikas Khladkar recommended the sentence that was handed down Friday.
He argued that Hand had committed the most serious crimes of any of the people who have been convicted in the scheme to siphon public money from the house of assembly.
"The magnitude of his crimes is the highest of anyone charged in relation to the spending scandal," Khladkar said at a sentencing hearing for Hand in St. John's Tuesday.
"Without [Hand's] direct involvement, the scheme could not have advanced to the level that it reached."
In December, Hand's lawyer, Bob Simmonds, said Hand should be given a prison sentence of two years less a day.
He said it is unlikely that Hand will be able to repay $450,000 and suggested that asking him to pay $100,000 would be more reasonable.
"He cannot provide that which he does not have," Simmonds told the court.
An agreed statement of facts submitted to St. John's provincial court said Hand used his daughter to deliver envelopes of bribe money to an official at the house of assembly. The statement said she did not know she was doing anything illegal.
Provincial auditor uncovered fraud
Hand owned Zodiac Agencies. He's associated with two other companies named in provincial auditor general reports that found members of the provincial house of assembly were misusing money they were allocated for constituency expenses.
The statement of facts said the total payments of public money to the three companies amounted to $2,651,644 for 2000-2006.
The provincial auditor general in 2006, John Noseworthy, said those payments involved fraud.
Bill Murray, former director of financial operations at the provincial legislature, pleaded guilty in January 2010 to fraud over $5,000 and three counts of accepting payments from politicians and Hand. Murray was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to repay $177,000.
The auditor general's reports led to criminal charges against Murray and four former politicians — Progressive Conservative Ed Byrne, Liberals Wally Andersen and Jim Walsh, and New Democrat Randy Collins. They received sentences ranging from 15 months to two years.
The audits also prompted an overhaul of how the legislature is managed.