Trial to start for ex-MLA charged in spending scandal
The trial of a former Liberal cabinet minister charged in Nova Scotia's spending scandal is set to begin Tuesday in provincial Supreme Court.
Russell MacKinnon pleaded not guilty last May to charges of fraud, breach of trust and uttering forged documents. The charges date back to 2005 and 2006.
MacKinnon allegedly billed taxpayers for payments he says he made to people who did temporary work for him at his constituency. The Crown says that work never happened.
MacKinnon represented the riding of Cape Breton West for more than a decade, first as a Liberal, then as an independent.
Five days have been set aside for his trial.
Defence lawyer Joel Pink says he believes it could take that long to complete the proceedings.
Pink says he won't make any decisions on what witnesses if any will be called for the defence until the Crown completes its case.
MacKinnon was one of four politicians charged in February 2011 following an investigation by Nova Scotia's auditor general into constituency allowance spending.
This is the first trial stemming from the MLA expense scandal.
Former MLAs Dave Wilson and Richard Hurlburt both entered guilty pleas to charges they defrauded taxpayers. Wilson was given a nine-month jail sentence.
Hurlburt is serving one year of house arrest.
The only sitting MLA charged — Trevor Zinck, the independent member for Dartmouth North — is scheduled to go on trial in June.
Zinck was a member of the New Democratic Party when the allegations first came to light.
With files from the Canadian Press