By Haley Ryan - Metro Halifax
HALIFAX - Despite an apology and the defence’s argument that Trevor Zinck did not intend to hurt anyone, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has ruled the former politician committed fraud for “personal gain and nothing else.”
© Metro Halifax/Jeff Harper
Defence lawyer Lyle Howe, left, walks in to Halifax Supreme Court with his client Trevor Zinck on Wednesday. The former MLA was sentenced to four months of jail time.
In court on Wednesday, Justice Glen McDougall handed Zinck two, four-month jail sentences to be served concurrently for his role in the MLA expense scandal.
“You’ve tarnished the image of all those good people who have … stood for elected office,” McDougall said in delivering his sentence. “You have failed your commitments and you must now pay the price.”
Zinck pleaded guilty in June to fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust for accepting about $9,000 from the Speaker’s Office to cover constituency expenses in 2008 and 2009, even though he didn’t pay those owed money.
Before McDougall announced Zinck’s sentence, the former Independent MLA for Dartmouth North offered a lengthy apology in court.
In his sentencing, McDougall acknowledged the apology but said he’d not seen much remorse on Zinck’s part until then.
The judge said he disagreed with the mitigating factors put forward by Zinck’s defence, like the confusion around expense rules and how he intended to repay the charities, because Zinck would have gone though orientation on the rules and had lots of time to repay the Boys and Girls Club and other groups.
Defence lawyer Lyle Howe said Zinck was in “good spirits” after the decision and had prepared himself for the possibility of incarceration.
“We can’t live in regret. We can only move forward, and that’s what Trevor wants to do,” Howe said outside of court.
Zinck remained silent as he was led away in custody, turning back to the benches for a moment to wave to supporters.
McDougall also sentenced Zinck to one year of probation after his release, gambling and alcohol counselling, a mental-health assessment and 20 hours of community service.
Zinck, openly apologized to his constituents and the charities he’d promised money to for the first time in court prior to learning his fate.
He stood for nearly four minutes, and said he had “fell short” of his obligations to his residents and those who had depended on him for funding, like William Moore.
Moore, who Zinck said he’d known for years, had been promised $860 to cover the cost of spring hockey.
“(He) was probably one of my biggest fans, and going through this process all Nova Scotians and his family know that I let him down, and for that I apologize,” Zinck said.
Zinck thanked those residents who had supported him, and said since the expense scandal came to light the province has “taken steps” to keep things like this from happening again.
“There are people out there who don’t know me, and have the right to hold disdain and I can only offer up my apologies,” he said.