A Halifax man has accused Independent MLA Trevor Zinck of running up $10,000 on his credit card playing online poker, without his permission.
Scott Marshall, who has cerebral palsy, has been Zinck's friend for almost 20 years. He says Zinck acted as a paid caregiver for him for several of those years, continuing to provide weekend care even after he became the MLA for Dartmouth North in 2006.
Marshall, 40, said Thursday that in June 2007, he opened his credit card bill and found $10,000 in charges from an online poker site Zinck had used.
He said Zinck had borrowed small amounts of money from him before and he knew Zinck played online poker, but he had not given Zinck permission to use his card.
Zinck was ousted from the NDP caucus in March over problems with his constituency expenses. Zinck has admitted to drinking and gambling problems.
Marshall, who lives on social assistance, said for a time he had received regular payments from Zinck.
When Zinck was his weekend caregiver, he would sign over those paycheques to put on Marshall's credit card debt, Marshall said.
But that stopped when Zinck ceased to be his regular caregiver.
Marshall said he often had to pester Zinck for the money and that sometimes the payments were not even enough to cover the interest.
Marshall said he confronted Zinck and said he would have to take action.
"He said, 'If you make trouble for me, I'll make trouble for you.' He's a politician. He's got more power than I do," Marshall said, adding that's why he did not take legal action.
Marshall's mother Helena MacLeod, who lives near Sydney, Cape Breton, said she learned about the debt and called Zinck.
"He gave Scott a minimum payment. On a $10,000 credit card, with the interest that's on credit cards a minimum payment doesn't go anywhere," she said.
"It doesn't matter who it is. I mean, you get somebody who is in a position that they can kind of take advantage of a person and they take advantage of it. You know, you just don't do that to people."
MacLeod said Zinck still owes her son about $7,600.
When contacted by phone, Zinck agreed to meet with CBC to discuss the allegations, but left his office shortly afterwards and did not return calls Thursday.
Marshall said Zinck phoned him, however — and told him not to talk to anybody about the issue and that he would "fix this."