OTTAWA – A year after they began piecing together their case against Mike Duffy, the Mounties are poised to lay charges against the former Conservative senator.
The RCMP are to hold a news conference this morning detailing the charges. Duffy and his lawyer were informed Wednesday night and issued a statement predicting he will be exonerated at trial.
Duffy is currently at home in Prince Edward Island — a residence at the heart of the Senate spending scandal. He has spent months recuperating from bypass surgery.
“Sen. Duffy is thankful that the awful 16 months of waiting through a protracted and highly public police investigation is finally over and we can move on to an impartial forum and fair hearing,” lawyer Donald Bayne wrote in the statement.
“To date, Sen. Duffy has never had a fair hearing, either in the Senate or in the media. We are confident that when the full story is told, as it will be, and shown to be supported by many forms of evidence, it will be clear that Sen. Duffy is innocent of any criminal wrong-doing.”
RCMP Cpl. Greg Horton, who has been leading the investigation, has alleged in previous court documents that Duffy committed bribery, frauds on the government and breach of trust.
The Mounties were simultaneously looking into Senate contracts that Duffy organized for a former colleague from broadcasting days.
The Senate voted last fall to suspend Duffy and three other Senate colleagues for their “gross negligence” in handling their expenses.
The RCMP have looked into three main areas during their investigation:
— The $90,000 worth of living expenses Duffy claimed for his secondary residence in Ottawa. An independent audit indicated he spent most of his time in the national capital region rather than in Prince Edward Island.
— An arrangement struck with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff Nigel Wright to have Wright secretly repay those expenses. The RCMP recently revealed they are not pursuing charges against Wright.
Duffy maintained that senior Conservative officials coerced him into repaying the $90,000 although he never felt he had broken any rules.
— Senate contracts totalling $65,000 Duffy arranged for the former colleague. The Mounties said there is scant evidence the work was actually done.
Duffy has said that Gerald Donahue did indeed do the work, but that much of it was delivered verbally.
The RCMP have already laid breach of trust and fraud charges against suspended senator Patrick Brazeau, a former Conservative, and retired senator Mac Harb, a former Liberal. Like Duffy, the two men were alleged to have improperly billed the Senate for living expenses associated with their residences.
An investigation into the travel expenses of Sen. Pamela Wallin is ongoing.