Socred cabinet minister jailed for corruption, dies at 89

Former B.C. forests minister Robert Sommers who was sent to jail on bribery and conspiracy charges more than 40 years ago, has died in Nanaimo. He was 89.

Sommers was convicted in 1958 on five charges of accepting bribes. He served 28 months in jail before being paroled in 1961.

Sommers was found guilty of accepting money and gifts in exchange for granting a forest management licence. He was the first elected politician in the British Commonwealth to be jailed for corruption.

Before becoming forests minister under Socred premier W.A.C. Bennett, Sommers was a school principal in Castlegar, B.C. He was first elected to the legislature in 1952 as the MLA for Rossland-Trail.

After his release, he worked as a piano tuner on Vancouver Island.