Aftergood sentenced to jail, fine in voting scandal

David Aftergood — a key figure in a municipal election scandal — was sentenced Friday to 14 days in jail.

UPDATE: David Aftergood was not jailed for violating the Local Authorities Election Act as originally reported in this story. He was sentenced to 14 days in jail in May 2007 but never served out the sentence, because upon appeal, he was granted a new trial and the charge against him was stayed in January 2010.


David Aftergood — a key figure in a Calgary municipal election scandal — has been sentenced to 14 days in jail.

Provincial court Judge Terry Semenuk also ordered Aftergood on Friday to pay a $2,000 fine, saying in a written decision that the incident gave the City of Calgary "a black eye in a public forum."

"Potential corruption of the political process has the effect of undermining public confidence in the integrity of our democratic process … one that we all vigorously seek to preserve considering all those that have given their lives in two past world wars so that we may enjoy that freedom," Semenuk said.

Aftergood was found guilty on April 24 of supplying a ballot to another person, a violation of the Local Authorities Election Act.

At the time, his wife, Margot Aftergood, was a candidate to become councillor for Calgary's Ward 10 in the 2004 municipal election.

Aftergood rented a mailbox in the city's northeast, picked up mail-in ballots from the mailbox and gave them to his brother, Ron, who was his wife's campaign manager, according to the judge.

During the trial, Aftergood testified that when he picked up the mail, he didn't know he was handling mail-in ballots.

Aftergood didn't speak to reporters as he left court Friday. His lawyer, Alain Hepner,said his client was prepared for a possible jail sentence but is disappointed that it came to that.

Appeals will be filed of both the conviction and the sentence, added Hepner.

Current Ward 10 Ald. Andre Chabot applauded the short jail sentence.

"It sends a clear message to anybody who wants to consider contravening the electoral process in the future," Chabot said."I hope people take note and act accordingly."

First time mail-in ballots offered

The municipal election in October 2004 was the first to allow voters to use mail-in ballots. The city received 1,266 internet requests for ballots in Ward 10.

Those requests, which all came from two computers, asked the city to send mail-in ballots to a postal box in a northeast Calgary strip mall. Of those, 863 were completed and handed to the Calgary Election Office by an unknown man. None were actually counted as part of the election.

At the time, Margot Aftergood said the postal box had been rented by her husband but that the couple had done nothing wrong. She said they had simply taken requests from people in the community and obtained ballots on their behalf, passing them along to the voters.

Aftergood was elected by 138 votes but resigned a month later after the city agreed to pay 60 per cent of her legal costs.

Crown attorney Peter Mackenzie had argued for a fine of between $4,000 and $5,000, or a jail sentence ofup to 30 days in jail, as a deterrent.

Hepner countered that a fine similar to those already handed down to others involved in the scandal would be sufficient.

In total, six people were charged after the vote. The cases of two of them — Anh Pham and Thanh Pham — are still before the courts. Minh Ngoc Vuong, charged with 19 counts of forgery, will go to trial later this year.

David Aftergood's brother, Ron, and campaign volunteer Son Nguyen earlier pleaded guilty to violating the Local Authorities Election Act and were fined $4,000 and $1,500, respectively.

Corrections

  • David Aftergood was not jailed for violating the Local Authorities Election Act as previously reported. He was sentenced to 14 days in jail in May 2007 but never served out the sentence, because upon appeal, he was granted a new trial and the charge against him was stayed in January 2010.
    Mar 26, 2012 1:40 PM MT