SYDNEY, N.S. — The son of a former Nova Scotia politician who has pleaded guilty in the province’s legislative spending scandal says his father had a gambling addiction that drove him to defraud the public purse.
Dave Wilson’s son testified Thursday at the sentencing hearing for the former Liberal politician, who has pleaded guilty to fraud, breach of trust and uttering forged documents.
Jonathan Wilson told the Sydney provincial court that his father told him he committed fraud to pay for his gambling addiction.
“He told me, ’I have a gambling addiction that caught up with me and that’s consumed me,”’ he said.
“I’ve never heard my father speak with such emotion. ... I’d never heard him speak like that.”
The Crown said Dave Wilson defrauded the Nova Scotia government of $60,995 from July 2006 to June 2009 by falsely claiming he paid five people for constituency work when he actually deposited the money in his own account.
Crown lawyer Andrew Macdonald said Wilson repeatedly asked employees and people doing contract work to sign blank receipts for money they didn’t receive. Macdonald is seeking a 12-month jail sentence.
Wilson, who once served as the chairman of the Liberal caucus, was first elected to represent the Cape Breton riding of Glace Bay in 1999, but he abruptly quit politics in 2010.
The 56-year-old former broadcaster was one of four politicians charged last year after a police investigation into constituency allowance spending.
The RCMP probe began after provincial auditor general Jacques Lapointe uncovered several cases of what he described as excessive and inappropriate spending of the allowances.
Lapointe’s February 2010 report ignited public outrage, revealing that thousands of dollars in public money had been spent on a range of items including power generators, TVs, custom-made furniture, laptops and cameras.
A month later, Wilson resigned his seat without explanation, saying only he could no longer fulfil his duties.
His sentencing hearing comes one week after Richard Hurlburt, a former Tory cabinet minister, pleaded guilty to fraud and breach of trust. He will return to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Yarmouth for a sentencing hearing on July 5.
Russell MacKinnon, a former Liberal cabinet minister charged with fraud, breach of trust and uttering forged documents, is to return to court next week for a pre-trial conference and a date for his judge-only trial will be set on May 3.
A preliminary hearing is set to begin June 11 for Trevor Zinck, a former NDP member who now sits as an Independent. He faces charges of fraud over $5,000, breach of trust and two counts of theft over $5,000.