Walsh gets 22 months

Rob Antle
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Judge says former MHA has 'high degree of moral culpability'

A provincial court judge has sentenced Jim Walsh to 22 months in jail, calling the former Liberal MHA's case "a large-scale fraud against the government by a person in a privileged position."

Last month, Judge David Orr convicted Walsh on two corruption charges - fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust.

Former Liberal cabinet minister Jim Walsh is taken to the St. John's City Lockup Wednesday after he was sentenced to 22 months in jail for fraud and breach of trust by a public officer. - Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

A provincial court judge has sentenced Jim Walsh to 22 months in jail, calling the former Liberal MHA's case "a large-scale fraud against the government by a person in a privileged position."

Last month, Judge David Orr convicted Walsh on two corruption charges - fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust.

Orr acquitted Walsh on a third charge of bribery.

On Wednesday, while sentencing Walsh, Orr said the longtime MHA and cabinet minister "has a high degree of moral culpability for the offences."

The judge noted that Walsh "has never taken responsibility for his actions," blamed others and claimed himself to be a victim of fraudulent actions by former House bureaucrat Bill Murray.

"The accused abused his position as an elected official and took advantage of the public trust that was given to him to enrich himself," Orr noted in his decision.

The judge sentenced Walsh to 22 months in jail on the fraud conviction and 12 months for the breach of trust. The sentences run concurrently.

Orr also sentenced Walsh to two years' probation and ordered him to pay the government $144,000 in restitution - the bulk of the excess claims that were funnelled into his account.

Walsh briefly addressed the court before Orr handed down his sentence.

He said the translation of his family motto means "wounded but not dead."

"Certainly I have been wounded throughout this process," Walsh told the court, while acknowledging many of those wounds were "self-inflicted."

Walsh also expressed "heartfelt thanks" to his supporters, and "heartfelt regrets" to his former constituents or those he may have offended.

Two sheriff's officers led Walsh away in handcuffs after his sentencing.

Prosecutor Frances Knickle told reporters the amount of jail time is "significant."

Defence lawyer Vernon French declined comment to the media, but indicated there will be no appeal.

Earlier in the day, lawyers for both sides outlined their sentencing submissions for the court.

Knickle told Orr the Crown was seeking a minimum of 18 months.

The prosecutor highlighted the sentences previously handed down to other politicians convicted in relation to the spending scandal.

Former Liberal MHA Wally Andersen got 15 months for forgery and breach of trust, while former Tory Ed Byrne received two years less a day for fraud and bribery.

Both have since been released on parole, after serving one-sixth of their sentences.

Andersen and Byrne both pleaded guilty. Walsh opted for a trial.

Knickle said Walsh was "patronizing about his responsibility" and blamed others for his predicament.

"Mr. Walsh's evidence before the court is that he did nothing wrong. Mr. Walsh admitted nothing."

Knickle submitted that there were few mitigating factors in Walsh's case.

"There is no evidence of remorse. There is no evidence of insight. There is no evidence Mr. Walsh thinks he did anything wrong."

The defence took no issue with the Crown's request for $144,000 in restitution, noting that $2,500 per month in Walsh's pension payments are being clawed back to settle the debt. To date, roughly $40,000 has been repaid.

But on the length of any jail sentence, defence lawyer Vernon French contended that his client deserved less time than Andersen and Byrne.

French suggested to the judge that six to nine months would be an appropriate range.

He noted that Walsh was acquitted on one of the three charges against him.

And French said Walsh's not-guilty pleas "should not be held against my client in any way."

In fact, French said, the lengthy trial - which began last spring and saw testimony from a series of top officials at the legislature - actually performed a public service.

The defence lawyer suggested the court proceedings shed light on the circumstances that led to the spending scandal.

French also noted that his client's "life and reputation obviously are ruined," his family has suffered, he has declared bankruptcy, and there is no danger of him re-offending.

"I think that a lesson has been learned by Mr. Walsh. I think a lesson has been learned by politicians."

Walsh is the third former MHA to receive jail time for fiddling their taxpayer-funded expense accounts.

A fourth - New Democrat Randy Collins - has pleaded guilty to corruption charges, and will be sentenced later this month.

The legislature's former director of financial operations, Bill Murray, also faces fraud-related charges in relation to the scandal. So does St. John's businessman John Hand.

Both are slated for court appearances this month.

rantle@thetelegram.com

Geographic location: St. John's

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • mikie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    just wondering if mr. walsh is selling his snowblower,seeing he will be gone for the winter!!!

  • Francis
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    We should do the Mandelian thing and forgive this man. Take his taxpayer funded pension away, make him pay back all he owes with interest. Instead of sending him to jail, work in some form of community service as part of his parole. Working at a food bank or homeless shelter would have a better chance of reforming him than going to jail.

  • Ian
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    22 months? Big deal; he will be out in 3 or 4.

  • Joe
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Jim, has a new social circle to move in now!

  • I agree with Francis
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    Francis has the right idea! Jail time is a joke - there he gets to hide out. He should be paraded around just like election time and come face to face with all the people he's wronged. Take him for a scattered stroll around the Mall on a busy day maybe; visit the sick/hospitals where he might develop an appreciation for life and be thankful for what he had; or hey wouldn't it be nice to see him travel school to school informing our youth about all the 'crooked' politicians out there!

  • Margie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Regarding these thieves, it's not worth the paper it's written on any longer, because it's the same outcome for all of them; out in three or four months, and pay nothing or very little back. Then to add further insult to the the very taxpayers they stole from and who pay their salaries and big expense accounts, we have to foot the bill for their legal fees for stealing from us.
    The Judges involved should be thrown off the bench. It's no wonder
    NL are the jest of Newfie jokes !

  • GAR
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    Walsh's lawyer stated the trial resulting from his client's not guilty plea actually performed a public service. Sure it did, Mr. French, not to mention the fact that, if you were so inclined, you could now take a trip around the world, thanks to the proceeds from the lengthy trial.
    Regarding Walsh's jail time, Crown Prosecutor Frances Knickle said it was ' significant '. Is she for real or what ? Walsh will only serve from 3 to 4 months and she considers that 'significant' ? She conveniently doesn't mention that, like the others, Walsh will likely serve only 1/6 of his sentence. It's time for Ms. Knickle and the judges to smarten up because taxpayers are fed up with these crooks serving only 1/6 of their sentences.

  • well
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    the funny part of all this is when Byren got 2 years , he served a few months , the real funny part is he served it in a hotel , now poor old walsh got to serve the same thing thats doin hard time , on tuesday i had a fteind sentenced to 2 years to. I bet there will be no room service for him , can t wait to see who gets out first. OHHH ya Walsh will he got more money, yes people on this little rock it depends how muvh money you got tells you what kind of time you do

  • GF
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    I see that Jim Walsh made the National News last night, Looks Good On Him.

  • Eli
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    I hope his lack of remorse is considered when he's eligible for parole. The guy should have gotten 10 years!

  • Bryce
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    Mr.Walshs comment that he is wounded but not dead shows his arrogance for the people of Newfoundland.The day he stole from the taxpayers is the day he died.He just has to be buried,Maybe when he finishes his prison stint.

  • frankie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    What,s needed now is a law stating that those found guilty of such crimes are not entitled to a pension, preferably retroactive!

  • john
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    Old man like him with his hand in the cash what a fool he made of him self makes him look like a Idiot

  • Lee
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    Walsh doesn't have any remorse; however, he must certainly have brought a lot of shame and embarrassment on his family.
    And Vernon French has the nerve to say that Walsh's plea of Not Guilty shouldn't be held against him.
    Oh my heavens, how darn frustrating and insulting to the taxpayers he stole from.

  • Florence
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Chains look good on him.

  • Joe
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Walsh THINKS HE DIDN'T DO ANYTHING WRONG. cAN'T YOU PEOPLE GIVE HIM THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT?
    NUDGE NUDGE. WINK WINK.

  • Whatever Bud
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    Throw him to the LIONS!!!

  • Martha
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    This man was so far up there in his own mind, that it would be beneath him to admit guilt or show remorse. For that alone, he should not get day parole. This is a joke to all. He declared bankruptcy, does that mean he won't have to pay the restitution???

  • jo jo
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Looks good on him.

  • Feldwebel
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Ya, they'll let him out early, just like Brault.

  • mikie
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    just wondering if mr. walsh is selling his snowblower,seeing he will be gone for the winter!!!

  • Francis
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    We should do the Mandelian thing and forgive this man. Take his taxpayer funded pension away, make him pay back all he owes with interest. Instead of sending him to jail, work in some form of community service as part of his parole. Working at a food bank or homeless shelter would have a better chance of reforming him than going to jail.

  • Ian
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    22 months? Big deal; he will be out in 3 or 4.

  • Joe
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Jim, has a new social circle to move in now!

  • I agree with Francis
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    Francis has the right idea! Jail time is a joke - there he gets to hide out. He should be paraded around just like election time and come face to face with all the people he's wronged. Take him for a scattered stroll around the Mall on a busy day maybe; visit the sick/hospitals where he might develop an appreciation for life and be thankful for what he had; or hey wouldn't it be nice to see him travel school to school informing our youth about all the 'crooked' politicians out there!

  • Margie
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    Regarding these thieves, it's not worth the paper it's written on any longer, because it's the same outcome for all of them; out in three or four months, and pay nothing or very little back. Then to add further insult to the the very taxpayers they stole from and who pay their salaries and big expense accounts, we have to foot the bill for their legal fees for stealing from us.
    The Judges involved should be thrown off the bench. It's no wonder
    NL are the jest of Newfie jokes !

  • GAR
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    Walsh's lawyer stated the trial resulting from his client's not guilty plea actually performed a public service. Sure it did, Mr. French, not to mention the fact that, if you were so inclined, you could now take a trip around the world, thanks to the proceeds from the lengthy trial.
    Regarding Walsh's jail time, Crown Prosecutor Frances Knickle said it was ' significant '. Is she for real or what ? Walsh will only serve from 3 to 4 months and she considers that 'significant' ? She conveniently doesn't mention that, like the others, Walsh will likely serve only 1/6 of his sentence. It's time for Ms. Knickle and the judges to smarten up because taxpayers are fed up with these crooks serving only 1/6 of their sentences.

  • well
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    the funny part of all this is when Byren got 2 years , he served a few months , the real funny part is he served it in a hotel , now poor old walsh got to serve the same thing thats doin hard time , on tuesday i had a fteind sentenced to 2 years to. I bet there will be no room service for him , can t wait to see who gets out first. OHHH ya Walsh will he got more money, yes people on this little rock it depends how muvh money you got tells you what kind of time you do

  • GF
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    I see that Jim Walsh made the National News last night, Looks Good On Him.

  • Eli
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    I hope his lack of remorse is considered when he's eligible for parole. The guy should have gotten 10 years!

  • Bryce
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    Mr.Walshs comment that he is wounded but not dead shows his arrogance for the people of Newfoundland.The day he stole from the taxpayers is the day he died.He just has to be buried,Maybe when he finishes his prison stint.

  • frankie
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    What,s needed now is a law stating that those found guilty of such crimes are not entitled to a pension, preferably retroactive!

  • john
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    Old man like him with his hand in the cash what a fool he made of him self makes him look like a Idiot

  • Lee
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    Walsh doesn't have any remorse; however, he must certainly have brought a lot of shame and embarrassment on his family.
    And Vernon French has the nerve to say that Walsh's plea of Not Guilty shouldn't be held against him.
    Oh my heavens, how darn frustrating and insulting to the taxpayers he stole from.

  • Florence
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    Chains look good on him.

  • Joe
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    Walsh THINKS HE DIDN'T DO ANYTHING WRONG. cAN'T YOU PEOPLE GIVE HIM THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT?
    NUDGE NUDGE. WINK WINK.

  • Whatever Bud
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    Throw him to the LIONS!!!

  • Martha
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    This man was so far up there in his own mind, that it would be beneath him to admit guilt or show remorse. For that alone, he should not get day parole. This is a joke to all. He declared bankruptcy, does that mean he won't have to pay the restitution???

  • jo jo
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    Looks good on him.

  • Feldwebel
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    Ya, they'll let him out early, just like Brault.