Mon. Aug 8th, 2022

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A political opponent calls for Calgary Coun. Joe Magliocca about pulling his name out of the Division 2 race after the RCMP accused him of fraud and breach of trust.

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The National Police Force announced on Friday that Magliocca was charged with each breach of trust and fraud under $ 5,000, after Mounties was called upon to investigate issues related to the councilor’s work-related travel and entertainment expenses. He is due to appear in court on October 15, three days before voters go to the polls to elect a new city council.

Many of the candidates running against Magliocca in this year’s civil election have highlighted the controversy and attacked him for the charges. Division 2 candidate Kim Tyers released a statement on Friday after criminal charges were filed against Magliocca, saying he should drop the ongoing campaign.

“Joe Magliocca should step down immediately and withdraw his name from the current election,” Tyers said in a statement posted to her official website. “News of accusations shows that Joe Magliocca is unfit to hold public office and is undeserved for the trust that Ward 2 voters had given him.”

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She said that if elected, she will work to ensure that there is greater responsibility in the city council to ensure that similar issues do not happen again.

Francis Aranha, who also ran for Section 2, said the courts should be allowed to follow their procedures. He said it is up to Magliocca to decide whether he will stay in the race or drop out, adding that Magliocca will remain innocent until proven guilty.

Candidate Theo van Bestouw said it is up to ward 2 residents to decide which standards are acceptable in the city council. He said they have a number of options to choose from on October 18.

Magliocca did not return requests for comment Saturday.

Magliocca’s spending has been the subject of a police investigation since August 2020, after Postmedia’s report of irregularities in the alderman’s spending led to an independent forensic audit, the results of which prompted the city council to refer the matter to police.

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In all, it was found that the councilor had improperly spent more than $ 9,000 during the current period, including unqualified flight upgrades and “host” expenses for meals and beverages with people saying they never met with him. In an incident in 2018, Magliocca billed the city for a hotel stay to attend meetings that auditors could not determine have ever taken place.

Magliocca, 56, has reimbursed ineligible spending but has largely refused to explain what happened, saying only that he never intended to make “mistakes” while trying to follow the council’s spending policy.

A request for freedom of information in Postmedia, revealed in January 2020, Magliocca had spent much more than any of his council colleagues attending the 2019 Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Quebec City. Magliocca was then Calgary’s representative on the FCM board.

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But many people listed for more than $ 1,800 in receipts for hosting expenses said they never sat down with Magliocca. Postmedia found 10 elected officials and lobbyists who said or confirmed through spokesmen that they were not hosting the councilor, despite being listed as participants for meals and beverages he billed the city.

The forensic audit conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers later found further cases of the same problem in Calgary, Halifax and Penticton, BC

Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University, said he believes Magliocca has three options after being charged. He said he can drop out and tell voters not to vote for him on polling day, he can continue the campaign as if nothing has happened, or he can defy and maintain his innocence.

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“Magliocca has tried to pretend it didn’t happen,” Bratt said. “As a result, this break on Friday with criminal charges not only brings the story to a much larger light and a much larger audience, but it increases the severity of it.”

While stating that Magliocca remains innocent until he is proven guilty of the charges in court, Bratt said the timing of the charges shows that the police believe they have a strong case against him.

“I was surprised that the RCMP accused in the middle of an election campaign. I think it tells you the strength of the case that they think they have and that it was important to release this before the election, ā€¯Bratt said.

Bratt said most politicians would step down over such a development, but said he believes Magliocca will stay in the race.

– With files from Madeline Smith

dshort@postmedia.com

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