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Toronto councillors Mark Grimes, Justin Di Ciano charged under Municipal Elections Act

OPP charge 2 Toronto councillors for alleged campaign offences
WATCH ABOVE: Recently re-elected Toronto Councillor Mark Grimes and outgoing Councillor Justin Di Ciano have been charged by police for filing incorrect paperwork related to their 2014 campaigns. Both say they have done nothing wrong. But if convicted, they could be on the hook for $25,000. Matthew Bingley reports.

Ontario Provincial Police have charged two Toronto city councillors for breaching the Municipal Elections Act during the 2014 municipal election.

Police said in a media release that both were charged following an investigation into “irregularities” under the Municipal Elections Act.

OPP began its investigation in September 2017 after a request from Toronto police regarding a probe by the Integrity Commissioner for the City of Toronto involving 57-year-old Mark Grimes and 40-year-old Justin Di Ciano.

Both of the accused have been charged with filing an incorrect document under section 88.25 of the Municipal Elections Act related to campaign finances, contrary to section 92(1)(b) of the Municipal Elections Act.

READ MORE: Toronto election 2018: Ward 3 Etobicoke–Lakeshore

“It was as a result of expenses during their campaign, that they didn’t disclose all the financial expense relating to their campaign,” OPP Staff Sgt. Carolle Dionne said.

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“So there was $26,000 each of expenses and/or donations that weren’t recognized and disclosed properly.”

Grimes was recently re-elected as councillor for Ward 3 Etobicoke-Lakeshore following the Oct. 22 election.

“Councillor Grimes has done nothing wrong,” said in a statement released Friday by a lawyer on behalf of Grimes.

“An allegation has been made that he should have made additional financial disclosure for his campaign from four years ago. No such disclosure was required. There is no credible evidence to support the allegation, which was made for political purposes.”

Di Ciano, who was a councillor for Ward 5, did not run for re-election after his ward was combined with Ward 6 when the provincial government reduced the size of council from 47 to 25 seats. He remains a sitting councillor until Nov. 30.

READ MORE: Justin Di Ciano wins Toronto’s Ward 5 Etobicoke-Lakeshore

A statement released by lawyer Scott Fenton on behalf of Di Ciano said he “looks forward to setting the record straight on any alleged clerical errors in his 2014 campaign expense return.”

“The real offence here is the extraordinary waste of scarce government resources spent chasing down minor alleged oversights regarding a long-forgotten municipal election campaign,” the statement said.

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If convicted, the accused can face fines of up to $25,000 and may be prohibited from running in the next two municipal elections.

Toronto Mayor John Tory issued a brief statement on Friday acknowledging the charges but did not comment on them as they are before the courts.

“This morning, the Ontario Provincial Police announced Councillors Mark Grimes and Justin Di Ciano are both facing a charge under the Municipal Elections Act for allegedly filing a document that is incorrect or does not otherwise comply in relation to their 2014 election campaigns,” the statement read.

“These matters are now before the courts where both councillors have publicly said they will challenge these allegations. For that reason, I will be making no further comment at this time.”

Grimes and Di Ciano are scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 19.