Questions raised about missing $2K cheque at MLA trial

A community organizer says he never received the $2,000 cheque Trevor Zinck claims to have given the group.

Trevor Zinck faces charges of theft, fraud and breach of trust

A community organizer says he never received the $2,000 cheque Independent MLA Trevor Zinck claims to have given the Dartmouth children's group

The Dartmouth representative is now entering the third day of his trial on charges of theft over $5,000, fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust.

In an agreed statement of facts, the former member of the NDP caucus has admitted that the Speaker's Office reimbursed him for $10,000 in expense claims he filed in 2008 and 2009 even though he did not pay the suppliers listed in his claims.

His lawyer, Lyle Howe, has focused his line of questioning on the lack of financial training for new members of the legislature and the somewhat confusing nature of the internal rules governing expense claims. Zinck was elected in 2006, but he was kicked out of the NDP caucus in 2010 amid allegations he had failed to pay his bills.

In 2008 Brian Leblanc ran the midnight basketball league in Dartmouth, a program designed to get children off the street late at night. It was run through the Dartmouth District 9 Citizens Association.

That same year Zinck submitted an expense claim for $2,000, saying he had given it to the group.

The expense claim included a letter requesting funding and a copy of a cheque.

That letter was supposedly signed by Leblanc but on Thursday he testified he didn't write or sign the letter. He said he writes for a living and the letter contained too many grammatical mistakes.

"The style of writing is not my own," said LeBlanc, who now works for the Department of Finance in Alberta. "I make my living writing."

He also said the signature wasn't his, at one point producing his driver's licence to show the difference.

He told the court he never saw the cheque and the only money the group received that year was from the provincial department of justice.

Zinck said he did not forge the letter.

Leblanc said he first met Zinck in 2006 and worked on his campaign doing door-to-door work with him,

Zinck became Leblanc’s official agent when he ran for city council in 2008. After he lost Leblanc said he applied for a job as Zinck’s constituency assistant but wasn’t hired.

Zinck was one of four politicians charged in February 2011 following an investigation by the province's auditor general into constituency allowance spending.

He is the only sitting member of the legislature to face charges related to the affair and he has steadfastly proclaimed his innocence.

With files from The Canadian Press