Nova Scotia

Expense training questioned at MLA fraud trial

Questions are being raised today about the training given to Nova Scoita MLAs on how to handle their expense claims.

Trevor Zinck faces charges of theft, fraud and breach of trust

The way Nova Scotia MLAs are trained to handle their expense claims was scrutinized on Tuesday as Trevor Zinck’s trial continued in Halifax.

The Independent Dartmouth MLA is charged with theft over $5,000, fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust. He was kicked out of the NDP caucus after allegations of financial irregularities in his expenses.

For years Jocelyn Scallion was the civil servant who signed off on MLA expense accounts and helped guide MLA's through the process.

On Tuesday defence lawyer Lyle Howe asked Scallion if she ever considered an MLA's background when she put newly elected members through their orientation.

She said no.

Howe then asked if she ever checked their financial background, including if they ever went bankrupt, or whether they had any accounting experience.

Scallion answered no.

Affected community groups

  • The Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club
  • Lake City Woodworkers
  • The Dartmouth District 9 Citizens Association
  • James Moore, on behalf of Atlantic Spring Hockey League

In an agreed statement of facts, Zinck admits he billed taxpayers for more than $10,000 he said he paid community groups for advertising.

The groups say they never received the money.

Howe asked Scallion when she approved those expenses did she ever ask Zinck if he actually paid them.

She said she wouldn't have questioned those claims because Zinck submitted copies of cheques.

The cheques were never given to the groups and never cashed.

Zinck was one of four politicians charged in February 2011 following an investigation by the province's auditor general into constituency allowance spending.

He is the only sitting member of the legislature to face charges related to the affair and he has steadfastly proclaimed his innocence.