City should know “very soon” whether OPP will lay charges
Greater Sudbury Police Chief Frank Elsner said Jan. 18 the OPP informed him recently that a decision on the case was imminent. While he wasn’t sure of exactly when a decision was coming, Elsner expected it would be a matter of days, rather than weeks or months.
“But they indicated to me it would be very soon,” Elsner said.
The transit investigation began after a 2011 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.
Hopes for progress into the investigation were raised at a city council meeting in June 2012, when Elsner said the OPP’s investigation into the provincial Ornge scandal delayed the transit probe.
Officers working on the case had switched over to look at problems at the provincial air ambulance service, delaying the Sudbury investigation.
“I had an opportunity to correspond with the OPP,” Elsner said June 12. “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.”
However, there has been no real update on the case since then.