MacKinnon Pleads Guilty in Expense Scandal to Avoid Jail Time

The former provincial cabinet minister, Russell MacKinnon, has secured himself from being imprisoned as he pleaded guilty in court on Friday regarding charges related to breach of trust in his role in the legislature’s expense scandal. A guilty plea was entered by the ex-Cape Breton West MLA on the fourth day of his trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax.

MacKinnon was originally charged with eight counts of uttering a forged document and single counts of fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust. He later confessed to have received a total of $10,900 in lieu of expense money entitled to him. A joint recommendation from Crown and defence lawyers was accepted by the Supreme Court Justice, Felix Cacchione, which recommended to give MacKinnon an eight-month conditional sentence, followed by a year’s probation. Cacchione informed MacKinnon directly, that “It is unfortunate and tragic that someone with your background … is now a person with a criminal record.” Cacchione added that “it is hoped that this will send a message to others who are in a position of trust that they cannot abuse that trust and hope to get away with it.”

It was agreed that MacKinnon will now be placed on a house arrest at his $1.5-million home on Boscobel Road in Halifax for the first four months of his conditional sentence, after which he will be compelled to obey a 9 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew for the remaining four months. The judge further added that MacKinnon shall endure 75 hours of community service during his probation.

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