Joe Fontana, the mayor of London, Ont., has admitted to altering documents around a $1,700 cheque of taxpayer dollars to help pay for his son's wedding reception in 2005 when he was a Liberal MP representing the area, but denies committing fraud.
At his trial, which began Monday, he admitted to altering the contract signed with the Marconi Club banquet hall for the submission to the House of Commons in these ways:
- Changing the date from June 25, 2005, to Feb. 25, 2004.
- Changing the reason for renting the hall from wedding to reception.
- Taking his wife's signature off the contact and substituting his signature.
- Submitting the $1,700 expense to the House of Commons for reimbursement.
The Crown says among the alterations were changing the date, the word "wedding" to "reception" on the contract and the addition of a yellow sticky note reading "misc constituents reception."
His lawyer, Gord Cudmore, argued that these alterations do not amount to fraud.
"What is at issue is the purpose of the $1,700 cheque. What was its purpose? What was it intended for? You will find it had nothing to do with the wedding," he said.
Fontana has denied any wrongdoing and has refused to leave the mayor's chair while his case is before the courts.
The charges against Fontana include:
- Fraud under $5,000.
- Uttering a forged document.
- Breach of trust by a public official.
He has pleaded not guilty to all three charges. The trial is expected to last three days.