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June 19, 2006
Forty-Two Months For Adscam Figure

In a departure from the lenient sentencing originally given to Paul Coffin for his crimes in the Sponsorship Programme corruption ring, Chuck Guité received significant jail time for his five convictions. The Montreal court has given the former Liberal bureaucrat forty-two months in prison, the harshest sentence thus far:

Former bureaucrat Chuck Guité was sentenced Monday to 42 months in prison after being found guilty of all counts of fraud in the wake of the federal sponsorship scandal.

The Crown had sought a sentence of between three to four years. Prosecutor Jacques Dagenais told a Montreal court that Mr. Guité's power and position of trust meant he deserved the harshest sentence to date of the three players convicted in the federal scandal. Mr. Guité was found guilty earlier this month of five counts of fraud.

Mr. Guité oversaw the program set up by then prime minister Jean Chrétien after the separatist forces' near-win in the 1995 referendum. The others convicted in the scheme are Liberal-friendly admen Paul Coffin, sentenced to 18 months, and Jean Brault, sentenced to 30 months. Mr. Dagenais said that Mr. Brault, head of Groupaction Marketing, showed genuine remorse. ...

The verdict signalled that the jury wasn't willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when he said that any irregularities in the sponsorship program stemmed not from criminal intent but from the panic that seized Ottawa in the wake of the 1995 referendum.

Mr. Guité was charged with five counts of fraud for awarding five contracts worth about $2-million to Groupaction Marketing Inc., the firm of Montreal ad executive Jean Brault. The Crown said little or no work was done.

This brings an end to all of the criminal cases under consideration, at least thus far. No move to indict any other player in the Adscam scandal has been made, and the Gomery report did not give any clear path for future prosecutions. However, it will likely not be the end of Adscam for Canadian taxpayers. No one really knows how much the Liberal Party functionaries took out of the Sponsorship Programme for work never done or even contemplated and rechanneled back into the hands of the party and its benefactors, but some estimates run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Canadians may ask themselves where all that money went, especially since the three men convicted only accounted for about $2 million of the funds. It is a question that may never find an answer.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 19, 2006 4:04 PM

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