It will take a judge a week to decide if a former MLA who admits he defrauded taxpayers through false expense claims should go to jail.

Trevor Zinck pleaded guilty in June to fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust for accepting about $9,000 from the Speaker's Office to cover constituency expenses in 2008 and 2009, even though he didn't pay those owed money. 

His lawyer Lyle Howe claims Zinck did not understand the rules.

The judge has reserved his decision until Oct. 9.

The Crown is seeking a four to six month prison sentence, followed by probation.

Zinck served

A bailiff served Trevor Zinck with a lawsuit as he arrived at court Tuesday. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

The Crown made the case that evidence during the trial proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Zinck wilfully intended to defraud taxpayer.

"He was quite proficient at going to the well. He just forgot what the water was for,” said Crown attorney Andrew Macdonald .

“This was a betrayal by Mr. Zinck to all who believed in him and to all taxpayers of Nova Scotia.”

The Crown said Zinck’s claims that he only had a high school education and didn’t understand the filing rules is a desperate attempt to mitigate the crime.

“You don't need to be educated to know what Zinck did was wrong,”said Macdonald.

Howe argued his client should only be given a conditional sentence. He detailed similar spending scandal cases where the guilty party received house arrest instead  jail time.

Zinck served with papers as hearing begins

As he arrived for his sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Zinck was greeted by a bailiff who promptly handed him papers for a deficiency order. The bailiff told CBC News he had been trying to track down Zinck for a week. The papers allege he owes $45,000 after the Credit Union foreclosed on his house.

Tuesday's hearing was off to a slow start as lawyers haggled over what would be allowed into evidence.

Zinck did not take the stand.

The Crown said Zinck committed a serious breach of public trust when he claimed expenses for donations to charities that he kept for himself.

The groups that were supposed to get money included the local Boys and Girls Club, a local citizen's group and a Dartmouth woodworking shop that employs mentally challenged workers, which received a partial payment.

The Crown also said Zinck told the Speaker's office he was sponsoring William Moore, 8, so he could play in a local spring hockey league. Moore never got to lace up because his father didn't get the money from Zinck.

The hearing comes after two delays. The case was delayed in August in the province's Supreme Court after Zinck said he was still trying to find an expert's opinion on his mental health.

Zinck, who sat as an Independent, initially refused to quit politics following his guilty plea, but resigned after the Speaker announced the legislature would be recalled to deal with his possible expulsion.

Three other former politicians have also pleaded guilty to fraud-related charges that stemmed from a 2010 investigation by the province's auditor general into constituency allowance spending.

With files from The Canadian Press