Judge to rule on 2 dozen criminal charges against Sen.Mike Duffy

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A judge will issue a long-awaited ruling today on more than two dozen criminal charges against Sen. Mike Duffy. The 31 counts of fraud, bribery and breach of trust were laid in July 2014.

The bribery charge stems from a decision by Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, to personally pay $90,000 in living expenses Duffy claimed by declaring his long-time home in an Ottawa suburb a secondary residence.

The 30 fraud and breach of trust charges relate to Senate money the Crown alleged Duffy either received for trips that had nothing to do with Senate work or that he funnelled through a friend’s company to cover costs the Senate wouldn’t pay for.

Duffy has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges before Ontario Court Justice Charles Vaillancourt.

The saga began in 2012, when the auditor general issued a report that recommended taking steps to ensure members of the upper chamber were submitting enough proof their expense claims were for legitimate parliamentary business.

Two other senators – former Liberal Mac Harb and former Conservative Patrick Brazeau – are currently awaiting trial for their own expenses – while Sen. Pamela Wallin is still waiting to learn whether she will face charges.

If Duffy is acquitted, he can return as soon as the upper chamber convenes again. If found guilty, he will remain on a leave of absence without pay until sentencing.

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