GUELPH, Ont. — A sentencing hearing for the Conservative staffer convicted in the 2011 robocalls election fraud scandal is underway.
In August, Michael Sona was found guilty of wilfully preventing or endeavouring to prevent an elector from voting, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
On the morning of the 2011 federal election, some 6,700 phones in and around Guelph received automated calls with misleading information on where to vote.
During trial, court heard of an elaborate plot involving fake names, prepaid credit cards and a disposable cellphone to order the robocalls anonymously.
A series of Sona’s colleagues testified that he spoke of engaging in dirty campaign tactics leading up to the election and weeks later freely admitted to his role in ordering the plot, and in fact bragged that he was the mastermind.
The 26-year-old Sona, who pleaded not guilty, could learn his fate as early as today.
His lawyer, Norm Boxall, argued there was no smoking gun and the Crown failed to definitively link Sona to the crime.
Superior Court Justice Gary Hearn is hearing sentencing submissions from the Crown and defence.
In his decision, Hearn said he was satisfied that Sona played a role in the crime, although he agreed with both the defence and Crown that it was unlikely he acted alone.
Although he largely disregarded testimony from the Crown’s star witness, Andrew Prescott, Hearn said he did accept the testimony from other Conservative staffers who were “candid, forthright and consistent” in recalling how Sona implicated himself in the crime.
One witness said Sona likened his covert actions in the saga to an episode of the TV action-drama “24.”
Another former colleague, John Schudlo, said Sona was known as a truth-stretching storyteller, so he wasn’t sure what to believe when he was regaled with a blow-by-blow detailing of the whole plan, with Sona at the centre of it all.
It was Sona’s “apparent arrogance and self-importance” that led to his downfall, Hearn said in delivering his verdict.