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Grits demand Horwath apologize for 'reprehensible' kickback allegations

By: Jonathan Migneault - Sudbury Northern Life

 | May 29, 2014 - 5:05 PM |
The Ontario Liberals have demanded that NDP Leader Andrea Horwath apologize for allegations that former ministers, including Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci, benefited from a government kickback scheme. File photo.

The Ontario Liberals have demanded that NDP Leader Andrea Horwath apologize for allegations that former ministers, including Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci, benefited from a government kickback scheme. File photo.

NDP alleges former Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci had home cleaned on public dime

Ontario Liberals are denying NDP claims that former minister Rick Bartolucci's home was cleaned for free thanks to a government kickback scheme, describing the allegations as “completely false.”

“Allegations today made by the NDP are completely false, reprehensible and represent a new low for that once-principled party,” said a Liberal press release Wednesday evening.

The allegations date back to an investigation by the OPP's anti-rackets branch in 2009 that looked into irregular financial transactions between provincial government ministries and a vendor.

OPP spokesperson Sgt. Pierre Chamberland said the investigation led to charges against four individuals – three government workers and one property manager contracted by the province.

According to reports by the Toronto Sun, the three government employees – Michael DePace , Gino Conicella and Katherina Pagliaroli – pleaded guilty to breach of trust, and accepting a secret commission.

Ivanna Presot, the property manager contracted by the province, pleaded guilty to fraud under $5,000.

According to the Toronto Sun, a cleaner named Bruno Perciasepe, who over-billed the province for cleaning contracts, gave police the names of the four charged parties.

When the OPP apprehended Perciasepe, he accepted a deal to become a police informant.

In addition to the four names, Perciasepe also gave the OPP a list of 172 people — including cabinet ministers and government workers — whom he said received free perks.

Perciasepe alleged, under oath, that he falsely billed or over-billed legitimate government contracts to offset the free cleaning of homes, cars and boats that belonged to cabinet ministers, provincial ministry employees and their relatives.

According to the Toronto Sun, those allegations were not challenged further in court and did not result in any charges.

“No one else to my knowledge has been charged in regards to this case,” Sgt. Chamberland told Northern Life.

Wednesday, the NDP said a whistleblower alleged Bartolucci took advantage of those free cleanings.
Bartolucci denied the allegations.

“The allegation was made and there was no substance to it,” he said. “Pure and simple.”

In its press release later that day, the Liberal Party said the allegations echoed Perciasepe's court testimony, which the party describes as "discredited."

“They distributed information based on discredited court testimony by a convicted felon who wrongly implicated 172 public officials,” the press release said. “This individual (Perciasepe) falsely named nine past and present Liberal MPPs, as well as the late Jim Flaherty and an unnamed 'Police Commissioner,' as having received free services from his company. These claims were properly dismissed by the OPP as baseless.”

The Liberals have asked for NDP leader Andrea Horwath to issue an official apology for the allegations.

“It is a sad comment on the state of the NDP that it has chosen to wallow in the mud and smear innocent people,” the Liberal press release said.

“We call on NDP Leader Andrea Horwath to immediately apologize to the Liberal MPPs in question, and to the family of the late Jim Flaherty. Finally, she should apologize to the people of Ontario for plumbing this new low in politics.”

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Jonathan Migneault

Jonathan Migneault

Staff Writer


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