Fontana Spared Jail Time

Jul 17, 2014 By Matthew Friedberg
LONDON, Ont. – Joe Fontana, the former mayor of London, Ont., who was convicted of fraud-related offences from his time as a federal Liberal cabinet minister, was sentenced Tuesday to four months of house arrest and 18 months of probation.

Superior Court Judge Bruce Thomas sentenced Fontana for fraud and breach of trust by a public official, saying "personal gain appears to be the only motive'' for the fraud.

"It may be in our terms a small pebble...but its ripple effect stretches further and lasts longer than the mass of the deed would seem,'' Thomas said.

Fontana resigned last month as mayor after he was found guilty of three fraud-related offences for forging an expense document in 2005 that resulted in a $1,700 government fraud.

At the start of the sentencing hearing Tuesday, the judge stayed the forgery count, because it was closely connected to the fraud.

Crown Attorney Timothy Zuber had called for Fontana to spend four to six months in jail for fraud and breach of trust by a public official.

In an interview with, Toronto criminal lawyer Matthew Friedberg says the facts of this case didn't call for jail time.

“Given the quantum of the fraud, I don’t think it would serve the public’s interest to have him serve time in custody,” he says. “It will not address any principle of sentencing in a meaningful way; this was not a million-dollar fraud. I just don’t think a jail sentence has any utility at this point.”


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