Michael Sona, the 26-year-old convicted last August of planning and carrying out a misleading 2011 election robocall campaign, could find out today whether he'll go to jail, as sentencing submissions are made in Guelph, Ont.
Prosecutor Croft Michaelson and defence lawyer Norm Boxall are expected to spend the morning making sentencing arguments for Sona, who was found guilty of helping to create and implement a scheme to direct voters to the wrong polling station on May 2, 2011.
Hearn could sentence Sona today or reserve his decision and sentence Sona later.
The maximum penalty for wilfully preventing or endeavouring to prevent a voter from casting a ballot is a $5,000 fine and five years in prison.
It's possible Sona will appeal the verdict, continuing the saga that dates back to the last federal election three and a half years ago.
Jail time sought?
Sona doesn't have a criminal record and is currently employed, factors that Hearn may consider in his sentencing. Charges under the Elections Act are usually dealt with as fines, but the Crown elected to charge Sona with the more serious indictable offence instead of the milder summary offence allowed under the act, suggesting Michaelson will seek jail time.
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At least one Guelph resident who initially complained about receiving a robocall told CBC News that he was sent a form letter asking whether he wanted to make a victim impact statement in the case.
Sona was the director of communications for Guelph Conservative candidate Marty Burke in 2011. He had been a Conservative Party intern and staffer, and had just started a job with MP Eve Adams when his name was leaked to the media in connection with the investigation into the misleading calls. He stepped down from that job.
Automated calls or robocalls are a widely used campaign tool, but the one for which Sona was found guilty was illegal because it was intended to direct voters away from their polling stations.
Sona's lawyer suggested Andrew Prescott, Burke's deputy campaign manager, was the real culprit. Prescott was given immunity by the Crown, though it wasn't clear from his testimony why he needed it.
Others likely involved
Prescott's testimony also implicated campaign manager Ken Morgan, who moved to Kuwait several months after the election and was never questioned by investigators.
While Sona was found guilty, the Crown conceded — and Hearn accepted — that it's likely others were involved.
"That may or may not be Mr. Prescott as alleged by the defence or may or may not be Mr. Morgan," Hearn wrote in the verdict.
Despite that, there's been no indication the investigation into the misleading robocall scheme, which went out to about 6,700 phone numbers, has continued.
A spokeswoman for the commissioner of Canada Elections, who is responsible for enforcing election laws, said the office doesn't confirm or deny whether they are investigating specific cases.