In a response to a question from Mayor Marianne Matichuk, Greater Sudbury Police Chief Frank Elsner told city councillors that problems at the provincially run air ambulance service was tying up resources at the Ontario Provincial Police, which is investigating the transit case.
“I had an opportunity to correspond with the OPP (June 12),” Elsner said. “They will be here (June 13) as well as next week to conduct a number of interviews in relation to this.
“They apologized for the delay in the investigation. All the investigators on this file were transferred over to the Ornge investigation that’s happening right now and that took priority … But they will be moving ahead now.”
The OPP has been investigating activities at Ornge since it was revealed that, among other things, its former head, Dr. Chris Mazza, took home more than $1 million in salary, yet was left off the Sunshine List of provincial employees who make more than $100,000 a year. Mazza also hired his girlfriend, who became a vice-president, and was involved in questionable contracts currently being investigated by police and a Queen’s Park committee.
Elsner said the OPP has been asked to move as quickly as possible with the transit investigation.
“This case has gone to the Crown attorney once already, and the Crown attorney returned it back to the OPP and asked for additional followups, and that’s what they’re going to do now,” he said.
The transit investigation began after a review by city auditor Brian Bigger revealed that, among other issues, transit management continued to renew contracts with 1211250 Ontario Inc., which operated the transit kiosk, the transit café and the airport café, despite the fact its debt with the city continued to grow year after year.
The city renewed its contract with the company June 1, 2004, when it owed $262,206. That contract ended Jan. 31, 2006, at which point the company owed the city $340,845. The city then entered into a year-to-year contract with the company for three years.
The company owed $333,962, $504,252 and $824,025 respectively from 2007 to 2009. The contract was terminated Sept. 4, 2009, with the company still owing the city $866,537. At its peak, the company owed the city more than $1 million.
Between January 2004 and September 2009, the majority of kiosk management fees (70 per cent) were paid personally to the director of the company, Tony Sharma, who was paid $533,506.
Additionally, where there was space to indicate the name of the person to whom the cheque should be made payable, the name Zio's Cafe (owned and operated by the director of the numbered company) was crossed out by hand and in handwriting it was indicated that the cheque should be made payable to one of the directors of the company personally. The cheques were even deposited directly into a personal bank account, rather than an account for the company.
With files from Arron Pickard
Posted by Mark Gentili