Thunder Bay mayor returning to public duties on Monday

Thunder Bay's mayor is returning to city hall on Monday, Sept. 25, after taking a leave to deal with "personal legal matters," the city said.

Will be at Monday night's council meeting, city says

Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs, who has been on leave since July and is facing charges of obstruction of justice and extortion, is returning to public duties on Monday, Sept. 25, the city said. (Cathy Alex/CBC )

Thunder Bay's mayor is returning to city hall on Monday, Sept. 25, after taking a leave to deal with "personal legal matters," the city said.

Mayor Keith Hobbs has been on leave since July 24. On July 21, he and his wife, Marisa, were charged by the Ontario Provincial Police with extortion and obstruction of justice.

The city notes in its release that the charges are "unrelated to the City of Thunder Bay."

In an interview with CBC News from his office on Monday morning, Hobbs said he took his leave for two reasons: "to strategize" with his lawyer, as well as to deal with some medical issues.

One other Thunder Bay resident, Mary Voss, was also charged with extortion.

According to court documents, Keith and Marisa Hobbs, along with Voss, attempted to "induce … [​Alexander "Sandy" Zaitzeff] to purchase a house, by threats, accusations or menaces of disclosing criminal allegations to the police," according to the court information on the extortion charges against the Hobbs. The alleged extortion occurred between Oct. 19, 2016 and Nov. 20, 2016.

Zaitzeff is facing a number of his own charges, including several counts of assault and sexual assault. His case is currently before the courts, and specifics are subject to a publication ban.

Zaitzeff's licence to practice law has been suspended by the Law Society of Upper Canada.

'Good Samaritans'

The obstruction charges against Keith and Marisa Hobbs cover the period between Dec. 21, 2016 and May 7, 2017, and allege that they interfered in an investigation being conducted by the RCMP.

Hobbs said he and his wife were being "Good Samaritans," and they're now "paying the price."

"It will all come out in court, and we'll be exonerated — I'm 100 per cent sure of that," Hobbs said. "That was outside of the scope of my duties as mayor. I myself think that I've done okay as mayor, and I'm going to continue to do that and lead this council through the tough times, the budget."

Undecided about 2018 election

Under the Municipal Act, a member of a municipal council can be absent from their public duties for up to three months before their seat can be declared vacant, according to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

Hobbs said he plans to serve his current term as mayor, but is undecided as to whether he'll seek re-election in 2018.

"We'll see how court goes," he said. "The legal process is a slow, long one."

"Once this is all cleared up, and I know it's going to be cleared up in our favour, I'll make that decision then."

Hobbs to attend council meeting

Hobbs, the release states, is scheduled to appear at Monday night's meeting of city council, and is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Tuesday, Sept. 26.

Hobbs said he won't be attending personally; his legal counsel will be there on his behalf.