An adjournment has been granted in the sentencing of former Independent MLA Trevor Zinck, who pleaded guilty to fraud and breach of trust in Nova Scotia's spending scandal, in order for Zinck to get help for his gambling and mental health issues.
Zinck's lawyer Lyle Howe told the court on Wednesday that his client is "motivated to seek counselling."
The court agreed to adjourn until Aug. 15 for a "status update" on Zinck's counselling appointments. Sept. 19 has been set aside for Zinck's new sentencing hearing.
The Crown opposed the delay.
"This matter has been before the courts for a long time," said Crown prosecutor Andrew MacDonald. "There's every evidence Mr. Zinck has engaged in counselling in the past in relation to these offences. Frankly, it's just a little late in the day to be coming forward and saying, "We think we need to hire an expert.'"
Zinck pleaded guilty in June to breach of trust and fraud, while a charge of theft over five thousand dollars was stayed. In an agreed statement of facts, Zinck admitted that the Speaker's office reimbursed him for $10,060 in expense claims he filed in 2008 and 2009, even though he never paid those listed in his claims.
During the trial, witnesses for the prosecution testified that organizations that were supposed to receive donations through Zinck's office never received their cheques.
Zinck confirmed in court he was given more than $10,000 from the Speaker's Office to cover constituency expenses in 2008 and 2009, even though he didn't pay those owed money, except for a partial amount to one group.
Delay tactic denied
He resigned his seat shortly after the legislature's Speaker Gordie Gosse recalled the house to deal with his possible expulsion following the guilty plea. He was kicked out of the NDP caucus after allegations of financial irregularities in his expenses.
When asked if he would run again, Zinck said, "In this world, anything is possible and, like I said, I'm a fighter."
Howe denied accusations the adjournment was a stalling tactic to enable Zinck to campaign in the upcoming provincial election.
"The crown has made it clear they're looking for jail. Who'd want to deal with that stress of not knowing what’s going to happen for a longer period of time than you need to?" he said.
"I don't know about the ins and out of an election but I know about criminal court and most of my guys come to me and say, 'I don't need this stress anymore.' So I don't think this is a delay tactic."
Zinck is one of four politicians charged in February 2011 following an investigation by the province's auditor general into constituency allowance spending. He was the only one who still sitting in the legislature when the charges were laid.