Police have launched a criminal investigation into a Toronto city councillor who took in $80,000 from a private fundraiser last year attended by developers, lobbyists, friends, family and companies that do millions of dollars in business with the city.
CBC News has learned that Toronto police's financial crimes unit is investigating Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti after the matter was referred to the force by lawyers for the city.
- Toronto councillor docked 3 months pay over fundraiser
- Mammoliti violated council code, integrity czar rules
- Big-time lobbyists attended pricey Mammoliti bash
The city's chief solicitor, Anna Kinastowski, confirmed in an email that, after her department hired an outside criminal lawyer to review the file, it was referred to law enforcement for "such action as the police deem appropriate."
Police would not comment on what the investigation will focus on or any specific potential criminal charges.
"I'm not worried about it at all," was all Mammoliti would say late Monday afternoon.
The outside lawyer the city brought in to review the case, Michal Fairburn of Stockwoods LLP, formerly one of the top criminal lawyers at the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, also would not discuss details.
"It would be a matter of solicitor-client privilege," she said. "It's been referred to the police. It's a police matter and the police will deal with it as they deem appropriate."
The Mammoliti fundraiser on May 22, 2013, saw nearly 250 people attend a $5,000-a-table evening of drinks, dinner, dancing and a silent auction at the Royalton Banquet Hall & Conference Centre in Woodbridge, north of Toronto. Invitations to the event, signed by one of Mammoliti's sons, pitched it as way to "support" the councillor against the "financial burdens" brought on by attacks against him over his backing of Mayor Rob Ford's administration.
Attendees sipped Campari and vermouth and dined on risotto, mussels, poached salmon and beef tenderloin. Exclusive CBC News reports at the time revealed that attendees included some of the top lobbyists at city hall and a property management company that has millions of dollars in municipal contracts to manage public housing.
Based on those reports, a Toronto resident filed a complaint with the city's integrity commissioner, who ruled this past July that Mammoliti violated the code of conduct for city councillors by accepting an "impermissible gift" of the $80,000 raised. (A clause in the conduct code says councillors cannot accept a gift or personal benefit "that is connected directly or indirectly with the performance of his or her duties of office.")
Integrity commissioner Janet Leiper also found that Mammoliti's taxpayer-funded staff had helped organize the event, sent out invitations and solicited cheques during work hours, and were directed to use their city-paid cellphones to do so. On one occasion, the councillor's staff told a banquet hall employee to redraft the contract for the event to ensure that Mammoliti's own name didn't appear "anywhere."
His colleagues on council voted to dock him three months' pay, or slightly more than $26,000 — the maximum penalty they are permitted to levy — following those findings.
In the past, Mammoliti has described the fundraiser as a private event among family and friends to celebrate his return to health following brain surgery last April.
Mammoliti is also suing the integrity commissioner, saying her investigation was marred by bias and a breach of his privacy.