Former Liberal senator convicted of fraud begins jail term
Former Liberal senator Raymond Lavigne has been sent to jail for breach of trust and defrauding the Senate of more than $10,000 in phoney travel expense claims.
Lavigne was sentenced in 2011 to six months behind bars, and another six months of house arrest after his release, but he appealed both the convictions and the sentence.
The appeal has now been rejected.
Lavigne was convicted of having filed mileage expense claims totalling $10,120 for 54 trips between Ottawa and Montreal made by one of his Senate staffers.
He had charged the Senate $217 for each trip but paid the staffer only $50.
In some cases, the senator wasn't even a passenger in the car.
Lavigne was also convicted of having used his office for personal gain.
Staff cut down trees
The court found that Lavigne had enlisted his Senate office assistant to cut down 60 trees on a property the senator owns north of Ottawa.
The work was done during office hours, at taxpayers’ expense, and the court ruled Lavigne's sole motive was to save himself some money for the job.
Lavigne was charged in 2007 and was kicked out of the Liberal caucus and barred from sitting in the red chamber. But for almost four years, he continued to receive his full Senate salary and benefits, plus office expenses and other perks, while the case made its way to trial.
After his conviction, Lavigne resigned from the Senate, allowing him to collect his pension then worth $79,000 a year.
In its ruling released today, almost two years later, the Ontario Court of Appeal rejected Lavigne’s attempt to overturn the earlier rulings.
Lavigne's Montreal lawyer, Dominic St.-Laurent, said Lavigne is serving his time in the Ottawa-Carleton Regional Detention Centre.
It's the first time in more than a decade that a Canadian senator has served jail time.