Ex-Canadian senator jailed for fraud

June 16, 2011 at 1:57 PM
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OTTAWA, June 16 (UPI) -- A Canadian Liberal senator who resigned after being convicted of fraud and breach of trust was sentenced to six months in jail in Ottawa Thursday.

Judge Robert Smith told Raymond Lavigne, 65, "no one is above the law," and also imposed a conditional 6-month sentence to be served in Lavigne's Montreal home, Postmedia News reported.

Lavigne was charged by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 2007 with breach of trust, fraud over $5,000 related to travel expenses and using his staff to cut down some 60 trees on one of his Quebec properties.

His lawyer argued unsuccessfully Lavigne paid the Senate back more than $23,000 in 2006 to avoid criminal charges. After the sentencing that included an order to pay $10,000 to a registered charity, the lawyer said there would be an appeal, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said.

When the RCMP investigation began in 2006, the senate put Lavigne on a paid leave of absence and he continued to collect his $133,000 annual salary. For the next four years, he was also able to claim office, travel and hospitality expenses. Because he resigned, he is also eligible to collect his senator's retirement pension of $79,000 per year, the reports said.

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