A senior Health Canada bureaucrat who received more than $200,000 in cars, Caribbean vacations, hockey tickets and direct cash after funnelling money to an aboriginal treatment centre will spend most of the next year in jail.
Paul Cochrane, 58, was handed a 12-month jail term yesterday, which Crown attorney Robert Pelletier and defence lawyer William Vanveen had suggested in a joint submission.
The former head of Health Canada's medical services branch, who lost his job in December of 2000 when the facts of the case came to light, will spend at least eight months in custody.
"I deeply regret the embarrassment and aggravation which have come about as a result of my actions," said Mr. Cochrane, who pleaded guilty to one count of receiving an unlawful benefit and another of breach of trust.
The court was told that, between December of 1996 and September of 2000, Mr. Cochrane received repeated and substantial gifts from Perry Fontaine, the president of the Virginia Fontaine Addictions Foundation on the Sagkeeng First Nation in Pine Falls, Man.
During that period, Mr. Cochrane unilaterally raised the per diem rate at one of Mr. Fontaine's centres from $200 a patient to $210, which is $10 more than the maximum allowed by Health Canada. That put an additional $952,890 into the centre's coffers over six years.
He later signed agreements with the foundation and one of its treatment centres that were worth about $70-million, at least one of which had no clause allowing the Health Minister to perform an audit.
Mr. Cochrane faces additional charges of tax evasion.
During the six years that he was assistant deputy minister, Mr. Cochrane received from Mr. Fontaine or members of his family cheques totalling nearly $80,000, tax receipts in the amount of $10,000 for fictitious donations to the foundation, two Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs, one Nissan SUV, hockey and concert tickets worth $15,000, three Caribbean cruises and a family trip to Florida.