Man behind 'Bingogate' pleads guilty

British Columbia's "Bingogate" saga ended Friday, when the man at the centre of the long-running lottery scam pleaded guilty to charges of fraud.

On the advice of his lawyers, David Stupich,77, pleaded guilty to one count of fraud and one count of running illegal gaming schemes.

Stupich, who was once an NDP finance minister, faced 64 charges. The charges were stayed in exchange for the two guilty pleas.

For almost 20 years, Stupich's Nanaimo Commonwealth Holding Society ran lotteries it said were for charity, but later funneled the proceeds to the B.C. New Democratic Party newspaper.

The scandal helped bring about the resignation of Premier Mike Harcourt even though he wasn't directly involved.

It's not known when Stupich will be sentenced, or if he will be going to prison. But he could be sentenced to electronic monitoring in the community.

Stupich's wife and daughter were also charged. But, as part of a complex plea bargain, the charges against them have been stayed. They'll perform 200 hours of community service. That also applies to Joe Denofreo, a former NDP party official.

The party itself is still not off the hook: its publishing arm faces charges and the party is paying back $115,000 to charities. That money is now in a trust fund. It will be dispersed to Nanaimo area charities.

There are still many unanswered questions left. It's still not known how much money was involved in the scam nor where it went. Those answers may come to light at another hearing in the fall to consider sentencing.

There is also going to be a public inquiry which may help to answer who in government knew about the scam, and why it was allowed to take place over such a long period of time.