Dean Del Mastro, former MP, makes emotional plea to avoid jail time
Former Conservative MP's actions merit only a fine, his lawyer argues at sentencing hearing
Dean Del Mastro choked back tears and had to compose himself in an Ontario court Tuesday as he described the "nationwide condemnation" he's had to endure as his election overspending trial wound its way through the legal system.
The former Conservative MP — who was found guilty last fall of violating the Canada Elections Act — made an emotional speech at his sentencing hearing before a judge retired to decide whether to send him to jail or not.
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"There are some who would appreciate an opportunity to hold a public stoning in the town square," Del Mastro told Justice Lisa Cameron. "It's my hope that the significant consequences that I have endured and shared will be considered in your deliberations."
I've had plenty of time to reflect on the case. I assure you there have been no shortage of sleepless nights- Dean Del Mastro
Del Mastro — once Prime Minister Stephen Harper's point man defending the Tories against allegations of electoral fraud — was found guilty last fall of exceeding spending limits, failing to report a personal contribution of $21,000 to his own campaign and knowingly submitting a falsified document during the 2008 federal election.
He maintained his innocence throughout his legal proceedings, even calling the verdict in his case just the judge's opinion.
While he emphasized his respect for the court in his statement, Del Mastro did not appear to express any apology or regret.
He did, however, make it clear that his legal saga has been a burden.
"I've had plenty of time to reflect on the case. I assure you there have been no shortage of sleepless nights," he said.
"My thoughts and prayers have been dominated by questions, research and discussion about things we could have done differently. And by things that were perhaps missed or perhaps misrepresented."
Crown seeks jail time
Del Mastro faces a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $2,000 fine on each of the three offences.
His lawyer has asked for a conditional discharge or, at most, a fine.
Crown prosecutors, however, want a sentence of nine to 12 months in jail, saying only imprisonment will truly drive home the gravity of Del Mastro's offences.
Del Mastro addressed the Crown's stance in his appeal to the judge.
"They have failed to acknowledge the exceptionally heavy price that I have already had to pay." he said. "The very public and, I might add, nationwide condemnation of both me and my character.
"It has impacted every part of my life. Financially, physically, emotionally, while significantly diminishing all of my future prospects."
Del Mastro resigned his Commons seat — where he had been sitting as an Independent since being charged — shortly after the verdict in his case.
Lawyer describes 'fall from grace'
His lawyer, Leo Adler, argued that the move was made by Del Mastro "for the good of the community" he represented.
"Mr. Del Mastro by resigning effectively fined himself," Adler said. "That's the real penalty Mr. Del Mastro incurred."
Adler also argued that his client was never charged with corruption and therefore did not warrant any jail time.
"When one considers his past background, his past exemplary conduct and his fall from grace, it's clear that his rehabilitation and the issue of specific deterrence is not necessary to be at the forefront," Adler said.
Crown prosecutors argued, however, that Del Mastro has refused to accept his convictions, which made jail time all the more necessary.
"This is no mistake. This was intentionally done and extensive efforts were made to conceal the deception," Crown prosecutor Tom Lemon said of Del Mastro's offences.
"He's suffered as a direct result of his own conduct, conduct that is directly related to the position that he holds."
Del Mastro's sentence is expected to be delivered on June 26.