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May 31, 2005
Guilty Plea In Adscam

Adscam has its first major conviction, as Paul Coffin agreed to plead guilty to 15 of the 18 counts of fraud and corruption he faced. The plea shifts his upcoming trial to a sentencing hearing, which will begin on August 16th:

Advertising executive Paul Coffin pleaded guilty Tuesday to 15 fraud charges in connection with the federal sponsorship program, marking the first plea in the scandal that threatened to topple Paul Martin's minority Liberal government.

Mr. Coffin, the first person charged in the scandal, had originally faced 18 counts. He was arrested by the RCMP in 2003 in connection with the matter. Three of the original charges were withdrawn by the Crown during Tuesday's hearing.

Mr. Coffin, head of Montreal-based Communication Coffin, had been accused of submitting $2-million in false or inflated invoices as part of his handling of federal sponsorships of car and mountain-bike races, among other events, between 1997 and 2002.

Coffin's plea marks a major milestone in the Sponsorship Program scandal, which saw at least $355 million of government funds disappear into the pockets of Liberal Party activists and cronies. Up to now, the issue of criminality had been treated as an academic question, with some people wondering if the scandal would or could result in any convictions.

The sudden guilty plea on a large percentage of the charges may mean something else as well. With the Gomey Inquiry limiting itself on issues of specific criminality, the Crown prosecutors may have cut a deal with the ad executive to start talking on a wider range of topics. That also could explain the two-month delay in sentencing for Coffin; the punishment he faces for his part in corruption may well induce him to deliver much more specific testimony about Jacques Corriveau, Chuck Guit, and perhaps others more closely associated with the current Prime Minister.

Coffin's plea may leave us with many questions for the moment, but it also provides us with an answer about the danger that faces the various Adscam players. The stakes just got a lot higher for all of them.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 31, 2005 12:10 PM

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» First Adscam domino falls? from Angry in the Great White North
Is this the first domino of many to fall in the Adscam inquiry? If so, who will be the last domino? The Prime Minister? [Read More]

Tracked on May 31, 2005 12:53 PM

» Canadian Adscam Scandel: Paul Coffin Please Guilty in Sponsorship Probe from FullosseousFlap's Dental Blog
The first plea in the sponsorship scandel that threatens the Paul Martin - Liberal Party government has occurred. The Globe and Mail has the story about the gulty plea of Paul Coffin to 15 fraud charges here: Mr. Coffin, the first person charged i... [Read More]

Tracked on May 31, 2005 6:58 PM



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