Friday, August 15, 2014

Truth Be Told, Michael Sona Guilty in Robocalls Trial

Michael Sona, the only person charged over misleading robocalls in Guelph, Ont. in the 2011 federal election, has been found guilty of one charge under the Elections Act. (Dave Chidley/Canadian Press)
Former Conservative staffer Michael Sona has been found guilty of using misleading calls to send Guelph, Ont., voters to the wrong polling station the day of the 2011 federal election.

Judge Gary Hearn of Ontario Superior Court said he is "fully satisfied" Sona at least aided or abetted those involved in what has become known as the robocalls scandal, though he added he believes Sona had help from one or more people. 

"The overheard conversations, Mr. Sona's inquiries of others, the matters set out in the agreed statement of facts and the disclosure in various conversations following May 2, 2011 are all factors that satisfy me beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Sona was involved with the creation and implementation of the scheme to direct voters to the wrong polling station on May 2, 2011," Hearn wrote in his verdict.

Although the evidence indicates he did not likely act alone, he was party to the offence and, as noted previously, there will be a finding of guilt registered."

Hearn found Sona, the only person charged in the case, guilty of one charge under the Elections Act. Sona will be back in court on Oct. 17 for a sentencing hearing, shortly after his 26th birthday.

He faces a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine, five years in prison, or both. 

Outside the court in Guelph, Crown prosecutor Croft Michaelson said he was pleased with the verdict and the judge's reasons, but would not directly address Hearn's belief that Sona might not have acted alone.
"We focus on one case at a time," Michaelson said when asked if he expected other trials. "I don't want to comment on what may or may not happen in the future."

Michaelson also would not comment on whether the Crown would seek jail time for Sona.

Sona's lawyer, Norm Boxall, was also asked about the judge's comment that others may have been involved in the scheme. He said the issue would "certainly" be raised at the sentencing hearing.
Boxall said he and his client have not decided whether to appeal.

"These are obviously difficult personal circumstances. It's extremely stressful for a young person," he said.

The misleading robocalls, which went out to 6,000 voters in the southern Ontario city, were linked to a disposable cellphone registered under the pseudonym Pierre Poutine.It is illegal under the Elections Act to interfere with a voter's right to cast a ballot.

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