Mike Duffy is the focus of a criminal investigation into a potential case of fraud and breach of trust, with an RCMP officer saying in a court document that the senator gave $64,916.50 in contracts to a friend who produced “little or no apparent work.”
It’s not clear, however, where that money went – with the friend insisting he never pocketed it or gave any to Mr. Duffy, according to the court document.
The developments, outlined in a document filed Tuesday by RCMP Corporal Greg Horton, are the latest in a string of scandals touching the Senate.
Cpl. Horton wrote he has “reasonable grounds” to believe Mr. Duffy has committed a breach of trust and fraud, two criminal charges, though Mr. Duffy has not been charged. The officer’s document, known as an Information To Obtain A Production Order, was filed in court in a bid to force the release of banking information he hopes could trace where the money went.
The contracts were given over four years by Mr. Duffy, using his Senate office budget, to friend Gerald Donohue and his companies, Cpl. Horton wrote, alleging the wages were arbitrarily set, in one case pegged at $200 an hour for a man with no experience as a government consultant.
According to Tuesday’s court filing, Mr. Donohue “acknowledged that he produced no tangible work product for Duffy” and instead provided online research and verbal advice on subjects “such as obesity, or being a Conservative.”
The job descriptions for Mr. Donohue’s work were, according to him, “catch-all phrases of things that he could do, not a of [sic] things that he actually did do,” Cpl. Horton alleged.
Mr. Donohue, however, told Mounties he never personally received any of the money, and also didn’t send it “back to Duffy,” according to the court document.
In an e-mail, Mr. Duffy said “it would be inappropriate for me to comment while these matters are being examined by the RCMP.”
Mr. Donohue, a former TV technician, became friends with Mr. Duffy after meeting him in 1989, and retired in 1997 for health reasons, the document says. He then started a company called Maple Ridge Media Inc., which was later renamed Ottawa ICF, according to the document. Both companies received Senate contracts, the document alleges.
The business was registered in Carp, Ont., a suburb of Ottawa, where property records show a Gerald and Gail Donohue bought an acreage property in May, 2002. The property includes a large, modern home and a neatly trimmed lawn. On Tuesday afternoon, three vehicles sat outside. A man inside asked television crews to leave the property. There was no answer at the door and phone messages left at the home weren’t returned.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former chief-of-staff, Nigel Wright, resigned after it was revealed he wrote a $90,000 cheque to Mr. Duffy to repay improper expenses. Cpl. Horton’s filing on Tuesday indicates Mr. Duffy sent Mr. Wright, in February, his calendar and a summary of days spent in Prince Edward Island, his home province. Mr. Wright has also provided “hundreds of pages of e-mails” to investigators, Cpl. Horton wrote, but that’s part of “an ongoing investigation” and “not part of this application.”
In a separate document filed Tuesday, Cpl. Horton is also seeking banking information on another embattled senator, Patrick Brazeau, related to his housing claims. Cpl. Horton alleges Mr. Brazeau does not live in Maniwaki, Que., where he declared his primary residence, thereby allowing him to claim expenses on his Ottawa-area home. Cpl. Horton said he has reasonable grounds to believe that is enough to warrant breach of trust and fraud charges, but none have yet been filed.
With a report from Stephanie Chambers