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Defence arguments begin at Fontana trial

By: The Canadian Press

 | May 28, 2014 - 11:14 AM |
London Mayor Joe Fontana walks to the London, Ont., courthouse on the first day of his fraud trial Monday, May 26, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley

London Mayor Joe Fontana walks to the London, Ont., courthouse on the first day of his fraud trial Monday, May 26, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley

LONDON, Ont. - The lawyer for the mayor of London, Ont., is to begin defence arguments today at Joe Fontana's fraud trial.

Outside the courthouse Tuesday, lawyer Gord Cudmore said he hadn't decided if Fontana would testify, but expected to be done presenting his evidence by the end of the day.

Fontana pleaded not guilty on Monday to fraud, breach of trust and uttering forged documents while he was an MP.

The Crown alleges Fontana doctored an invoice for his son's June 2005 wedding reception totalling $1,700 and submitted it to the House of Commons as a constituency expense.

Five Crown witnesses — including experts and analysts in handwriting and detection of document alteration — testified on Tuesday.

Justice Bruce Thomas has said if the trial wraps up by Friday, he will be ready to make a judgment on Fontana's guilt or innocence on June 6.

Government of Canada Accounting Officer in the House of Commons, Michel Champagne, testified Tuesday that the expense claim found its way to his office on March 24, 2005.

Champagne speculated it was possible the event date of Feb. 25, 2004, was overlooked as a clerical error on the part of the Marconi Club.

He said it wasn't unusual for people to record the wrong year soon after a new year begins.

Another oversight Champagne was questioned about was the fact the $1,700 cheque was made out to the Marconi Club instead of Fontana as was directed on the yellow sticky note that was slapped on the claim.

Champagne speculated making the cheque out to the club could have been a mistake on the part of his colleague. (BlackburnNews.com, AM980)

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