Collins pleads guilty

Rob Antle
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Former MHA admits to fraud, bribery

As an NDP MHA for eight years, Randy Collins advocated for the province's poor and powerless, but on Tuesday he pleaded guilty to stealing from those same people, and bribing a public official to do so.

Collins stood quietly in the cavernous Courtroom No. 1, hands folded in front of him, as he entered guilty pleas to fraud over $5,000 and frauds on the government.

Former NDP MHA Randy Collins pleaded guilty to two fraud-related charges against him at Supreme Court Tuesday morning. - Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

As an NDP MHA for eight years, Randy Collins advocated for the province's poor and powerless, but on Tuesday he pleaded guilty to stealing from those same people, and bribing a public official to do so.

Collins stood quietly in the cavernous Courtroom No. 1, hands folded in front of him, as he entered guilty pleas to fraud over $5,000 and frauds on the government.

The former MHA will be back in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court Dec. 11 for a statement of facts and sentencing.

The Crown will then withdraw two other charges against Collins: uttering forged documents and breach of trust by a public officer.

Neither Collins nor his lawyer, Edward Hearn, had any comment for reporters.

Prosecutor Frances Knickle said it would be inappropriate at this point to discuss what type of sentence the Crown will seek.

"That will all unfold as it should on Dec. 11," she told reporters.

The former MHA's 1999 victory in Labrador West was a breakthrough for the provincial New Democrats. He coasted to re-election in 2003, easily withstanding the blue Tory wave that swept much of the province.

But in a June 2006 report, Auditor General John Noseworthy alleged that Collins overspent hundreds of thousands of dollars from his taxpayer-funded constituency allowance. The final tab came in at $358,598.

Collins continued as MHA for the rest of that year. But in January 2007, he pulled the plug, announcing his resignation would take effect Feb. 14.

Collins moved to Toronto to take a position with the United Steelworkers union.

The charges against Collins span a seven-year period, from 1999 to 2006 - almost his entire career in provincial politics.

The auditor general's findings, along with those involving constituency allowance spending by other politicians, sparked a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary investigation called Operation Radius.

Police probes led to charges against four former MHAs and a senior House of Assembly bureaucrat.

Collins becomes the second former politician to plead guilty in relation to the constituency allowance spending scandal.

Earlier this year, former Tory cabinet minister and party leader Ed Byrne was sentenced to two years less a day on fraud-related charges.

Byrne admitted defrauding taxpayers of more than $100,000 and bribing a public official as part of the scheme. He served 4 1/2 months, and is now out of jail.

Meanwhile, the fraud trial of longtime Liberal MHA Jim Walsh is underway at provincial court in St. John's.

Court proceedings are also continuing against former Liberal cabinet minister Wally Andersen and the legislature's longtime director of financial operations, Bill Murray.

Ironically, Collins' crimes appear to have helped support a social ill he crusaded strenuously against as an MHA.

Collins consistently pushed for restrictions on video-lottery terminals (VLTs), even calling for a provincewide referendum to banish the machines.

The MHA wrote in a 2005 Telegram opinion piece that "Labrador has people for whom VLTs have been the source of ruination. ... VLTs are, by design, very addictive, which is why they are referred to as the 'crack cocaine' of gambling."

Tuesday, Collins pleaded guilty to bribing Murray, the top financial official at the legislature.

Murray told the Jim Walsh corruption trial he needed money to feed a $500-a-day VLT gambling habit.

rantle@thetelegram.com

Organizations: United Steelworkers union

Geographic location: Labrador West, Toronto, St. John's

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • DeeBee
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    The prosecution recommends a penalty, Eli, but, ultimately, it's the judge who either agrees with it or gives another sentence. The defence usually seeks a lighter sentence, so the judge may side with them & be more lenient towards the convicted.

  • Leah
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    Hundreds of thousands of people, unfortunately, have addictions.
    Just imagine if they all stole to feed
    their addiction, especially from those who are paying your salary.
    WHY DID ED BYRNE GET OUT OF
    JAIL AFTER SERVING ONLY
    4 1/2 MONTHS ???????
    In the name of heavens, what kind of a justice system does NL have ?

  • heidi
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    Throw the book at them all! How dare they abuse their access to funds that are not theirs to use.

    And what is this with Ed Byrne getting out early? For a part of their punishment these people should have to go and live like some Newfoundlanders live. Barely making enough to live on ..a community service based punishment..go work in a soup kitchen and see how many hungry people there are. Or work in a food bank and see who comes in, get in touch with the real world..see those who go hungry cause they feed their kids first...

    Make them pay back every last dime and if they have to work and make an Honest days living so be it!

    Make them leave the province for months leave their family behind and work in another province cause there are no jobs because the politicians have wasted the money instead of doing the job they were supposed to be doing.

  • Ed
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    Sorry I made a mistake regarding my comment on Ed Byrne's sentence, I meant to say does everyone in NL who is sentence to two years only have to serve four and a half months of their sentence, or is these breaks just for politicians?I will be more careful and check my comments from now on, but these things happen sometimes when you get a bit over the hill, the missus tells me all the time that she thinks I got all timers, anyone know what that is?

  • bed
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    To Jay Foster, you are full of cow poopie. how can you defend those who we have appointed to speak for us? we elect those people in so that we have a voice in what goes on in the province. we are rewarded

  • Jay
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    To all before my comments, and especially all those that come after, He without ...cast the first stone, states a well-known collection of writings. To Randy, MR says to his little man from Gambo that (this person) was sorry to hear that the temptation got the better of his friend. (And still my friend). To Gerry I can see where you are coming from when you had a chance to read in the article that he was connected to ...big union (your words) but what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Mind you humans who are imperfect always did have a habit of tarring everyone with the same brush . To Randy think of it as two steps backward and now you have to catch up to where you stood before those provincial-politics' days ( and the temptations that crossed your way). Fight the Good Fight.

  • Jay
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Craig from NS and bed over (maybe to be correct perhaps you meant bendover but seeing you are from BF I will conclude you have not been taught there is a letter N in the alphabet...as a rebuttal I say you two suffer from Verbal Diarrhea and Constipation of thought. Craig any (ship's name - er) from your neck of the woods would look great with that Case wrapped around your ears.

  • DeeBee
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    I firmly believe these trials are proof of corruption in our legal system. If this was a lay person, not a wealthy businessman, politican or lawyer, who misappriated funds of these amounts, would the penalty be the same? Some would say yes, but I'd love to have some proof of this. Besides, you'd think the penalty would be harsher for public figures - not only do they steal from public funds and abuse positions of public trust, but they have their golf buddies & country club pals sitting in the judges' seats deciding how long they have to spend behind bars, if at all.

  • Tim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    One thing the Chinese have right in their system is to round up fraudsters at the same time and put them on live TV for the whole trial and sentence them to jail. all at the same time. Remember Collins had the luxury of knowing Eddie only got a fraction of the time sentenced so of course he was 'fessing up! Hope a local musical act come up with a fun song Hotel Bishops Falls to the tune of Hotel California because this is farcical.

  • Craig
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    maybe someone should be checking the union books in Lab City to see if he had his grubby little paws into that too.
    Jay Foster, you are an idiot. I'll cast the first stone (i havn't robbed anyone in my life.). He pleaded guilty to being the scumbag that he was accused of being Case closed!

  • tess
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    send it over to afganistan to check on the enemy and play their lottery terminals...wouldn't have to do jail time here...they'l fix him up...

  • benjamin
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    This just in...Danny Williams appoints Ed Byrne as the new Justice Minister...I can see it now! none of those thiefs should be getting the breaks they are getting. just let one of us kill a moose out of season to feed our family (not our addiction to a VLT) and see how quick they spring us from the Bishop Falls Getaway...

  • Citizen
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    To : Jay from Ontario,

    GET A GRIP MAN!

  • Citizen
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    Bribery to get money for gambling machines, DISGUSTING! this deserves jail time, and just because you say your sorry DOESN'T absolve you of your crime! PAY EVERY RED CENT BACK.

  • Gerry
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    He worked for a big Union didn't he? So why would it be a surprise that he behaved as he did? Big Unions/Big Politicians ...... same types, just on opposite sides of the fence sometimes.

  • Ed
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    surprised to hear that Ed Burne is out jail after serving only four and half years of his two year sentence, does everyone who is sentenced to years in jai in NL gets these breaks, or is that just for politicians?, just wondering.

  • Eli
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    When did we get to the situation where the prosecution recommends the penalty. After that comes a pre sentecing hearing. What the heck is a judge there for?
    And we wonder why the courts are backlogged.

  • Mary
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Those guys working for the govenment are having a great time with peoples money and basically getting away with it.
    Ed Byrne, wow he got it knocked. I don't believe it's justice that happened with him, I believe it;s who he knows in the legal system and that's why he's out. I believe all these judges, lawyers and government officials are tarred with the same brush. Ed Byrne and the others, No conscience, just steal hard working tax payers money and then, smile at the camera when going to the Lockup.

  • tom
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    Danny:

    Thank you we would never know but for you. Lets not fall for the Ag bull that he uncovered it.

    Danny you are 80% in the polls , now is the time to reduce the MHA's to 25 Total.

    We believe in you , c'mon danny the lord hates a coward.

    Just wondering why there is a post a comment tab on the common man like Mr. collins , yet no option on asstory about a cop???? Just asking

    Jay foster you are right on the money.

    Wonder how come the former minister of justice , wine and art was not charged,

    could it be be he is an officer of the court,

    What a joke?
    No jobs hmmm , I think i

  • DeeBee
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    The prosecution recommends a penalty, Eli, but, ultimately, it's the judge who either agrees with it or gives another sentence. The defence usually seeks a lighter sentence, so the judge may side with them & be more lenient towards the convicted.

  • Leah
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    Hundreds of thousands of people, unfortunately, have addictions.
    Just imagine if they all stole to feed
    their addiction, especially from those who are paying your salary.
    WHY DID ED BYRNE GET OUT OF
    JAIL AFTER SERVING ONLY
    4 1/2 MONTHS ???????
    In the name of heavens, what kind of a justice system does NL have ?

  • heidi
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    Throw the book at them all! How dare they abuse their access to funds that are not theirs to use.

    And what is this with Ed Byrne getting out early? For a part of their punishment these people should have to go and live like some Newfoundlanders live. Barely making enough to live on ..a community service based punishment..go work in a soup kitchen and see how many hungry people there are. Or work in a food bank and see who comes in, get in touch with the real world..see those who go hungry cause they feed their kids first...

    Make them pay back every last dime and if they have to work and make an Honest days living so be it!

    Make them leave the province for months leave their family behind and work in another province cause there are no jobs because the politicians have wasted the money instead of doing the job they were supposed to be doing.

  • Ed
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    Sorry I made a mistake regarding my comment on Ed Byrne's sentence, I meant to say does everyone in NL who is sentence to two years only have to serve four and a half months of their sentence, or is these breaks just for politicians?I will be more careful and check my comments from now on, but these things happen sometimes when you get a bit over the hill, the missus tells me all the time that she thinks I got all timers, anyone know what that is?

  • bed
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    To Jay Foster, you are full of cow poopie. how can you defend those who we have appointed to speak for us? we elect those people in so that we have a voice in what goes on in the province. we are rewarded

  • Jay
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    To all before my comments, and especially all those that come after, He without ...cast the first stone, states a well-known collection of writings. To Randy, MR says to his little man from Gambo that (this person) was sorry to hear that the temptation got the better of his friend. (And still my friend). To Gerry I can see where you are coming from when you had a chance to read in the article that he was connected to ...big union (your words) but what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Mind you humans who are imperfect always did have a habit of tarring everyone with the same brush . To Randy think of it as two steps backward and now you have to catch up to where you stood before those provincial-politics' days ( and the temptations that crossed your way). Fight the Good Fight.

  • Jay
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    Craig from NS and bed over (maybe to be correct perhaps you meant bendover but seeing you are from BF I will conclude you have not been taught there is a letter N in the alphabet...as a rebuttal I say you two suffer from Verbal Diarrhea and Constipation of thought. Craig any (ship's name - er) from your neck of the woods would look great with that Case wrapped around your ears.

  • DeeBee
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    I firmly believe these trials are proof of corruption in our legal system. If this was a lay person, not a wealthy businessman, politican or lawyer, who misappriated funds of these amounts, would the penalty be the same? Some would say yes, but I'd love to have some proof of this. Besides, you'd think the penalty would be harsher for public figures - not only do they steal from public funds and abuse positions of public trust, but they have their golf buddies & country club pals sitting in the judges' seats deciding how long they have to spend behind bars, if at all.

  • Tim
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    One thing the Chinese have right in their system is to round up fraudsters at the same time and put them on live TV for the whole trial and sentence them to jail. all at the same time. Remember Collins had the luxury of knowing Eddie only got a fraction of the time sentenced so of course he was 'fessing up! Hope a local musical act come up with a fun song Hotel Bishops Falls to the tune of Hotel California because this is farcical.

  • Craig
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    maybe someone should be checking the union books in Lab City to see if he had his grubby little paws into that too.
    Jay Foster, you are an idiot. I'll cast the first stone (i havn't robbed anyone in my life.). He pleaded guilty to being the scumbag that he was accused of being Case closed!

  • tess
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    send it over to afganistan to check on the enemy and play their lottery terminals...wouldn't have to do jail time here...they'l fix him up...

  • benjamin
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    This just in...Danny Williams appoints Ed Byrne as the new Justice Minister...I can see it now! none of those thiefs should be getting the breaks they are getting. just let one of us kill a moose out of season to feed our family (not our addiction to a VLT) and see how quick they spring us from the Bishop Falls Getaway...

  • Citizen
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    To : Jay from Ontario,

    GET A GRIP MAN!

  • Citizen
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    Bribery to get money for gambling machines, DISGUSTING! this deserves jail time, and just because you say your sorry DOESN'T absolve you of your crime! PAY EVERY RED CENT BACK.

  • Gerry
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    He worked for a big Union didn't he? So why would it be a surprise that he behaved as he did? Big Unions/Big Politicians ...... same types, just on opposite sides of the fence sometimes.

  • Ed
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    surprised to hear that Ed Burne is out jail after serving only four and half years of his two year sentence, does everyone who is sentenced to years in jai in NL gets these breaks, or is that just for politicians?, just wondering.

  • Eli
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    When did we get to the situation where the prosecution recommends the penalty. After that comes a pre sentecing hearing. What the heck is a judge there for?
    And we wonder why the courts are backlogged.

  • Mary
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    Those guys working for the govenment are having a great time with peoples money and basically getting away with it.
    Ed Byrne, wow he got it knocked. I don't believe it's justice that happened with him, I believe it;s who he knows in the legal system and that's why he's out. I believe all these judges, lawyers and government officials are tarred with the same brush. Ed Byrne and the others, No conscience, just steal hard working tax payers money and then, smile at the camera when going to the Lockup.

  • tom
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    Danny:

    Thank you we would never know but for you. Lets not fall for the Ag bull that he uncovered it.

    Danny you are 80% in the polls , now is the time to reduce the MHA's to 25 Total.

    We believe in you , c'mon danny the lord hates a coward.

    Just wondering why there is a post a comment tab on the common man like Mr. collins , yet no option on asstory about a cop???? Just asking

    Jay foster you are right on the money.

    Wonder how come the former minister of justice , wine and art was not charged,

    could it be be he is an officer of the court,

    What a joke?
    No jobs hmmm , I think i