BC Liberal MLA Kash Heed's 2009 election campaign manager Barinder Sall avoided a jail sentence Friday afternoon but was fined $15,000, put on one year's probation and ordered to perform 200 community service hours in the Vancouver-Fraserview election overspending case.
Sall admitted to six violations of the Elections Act in a guilty plea bargain deal that saw serious Criminal Code obstruction of justice charges dropped that could have seen him sentenced to up to 10 years in jail.
UPDATE #1 - And in a new development tonight, CBC TV is reporting that Sall told them up to $40,000 in additional elections expenses were unreported to Elections BC. In an exclusive interview with CBC, Sall says: "I have accepted full responsibility for my actions and errors. But I did not act alone."
Heed's lawyer David Gruber denies Sall's charges, CBC reports.
UPDATE #2 - The South Asian Link Newspaper is reporting it has obtained copies of emails allegedly between Heed and Sall that have Heed: "
The charges came after Heed's campaign printed and distributed a vicious and inaccurate leaflet trashing the NDP but didn't report the costs - which exceeded election spending limits. Sall and Khanna also admitted they lied to RCMP and Elections BC investigators when contacted about the leaflet and other expenses.
Heed was never charged with any offences but admitted to overspending and was fined $8,000 but allowed to keep the Vancouver-Fraserview seat he narrowly won over NDP opponent Gabriel Yiu by less than 800 votes.
UPDATE #3 - Oct 31 - NDP candidate Gabriel Yiu has requested Elections BC start a new investigation into the Kash Heed 2009 election expenses based on media reports from the CBC and the allegations of Barinder Sall that up to $40,000 in election spending was not accounted for. And the Vancouver Sun has a front page story today repeating Sall's allegations and detailing Sall's long relationship as an advisor to Heed. Yiu's full letter to Elections BC is at the bottom of this story.
|Barinder Sall speaks to media after sentencing - Bill Tieleman photo|
|NDP MLA Bruce Ralston & 2009 Vancouver-Fraserview candidate Gabriel Yiu - Bill Tieleman photo|
But no explanation was made in any of the proceedings about two cheques worth a total of $6,000 paid to Sall and campaign worker Sameer Ismail from Heed's government funded consituency association account a month after the election campaign. Heed signed both cheques, $4,000 to Sall and $2,000 to Ismail, with his lawyer David Gruber telling 24 hours newspaper that Heed "understood the cheques to be for services rendered to the constituency office."
Judge Joe Galati told Sall and Khanna that: "That they should consider themselves fortunate in the outcome of this case. Both of them, but especially Mr. Sall, had taken actions to circumvent the laws." But Galati said he took into account that both men had no criminal record, showed remorse, were of past good character and had pled guilty, making a three week trial unnecessary.
Yiu said outside Provincial Court in Vancouver that he was "very disappointed in the sentence" while NDP MLA Bruce Ralston said the case leaves Heed's legitimacy as an MLA in doubt.
"The laws were broken outrageously," Ralston said. "Voters must be asking themselves if it was a fair election."
Yiu was even more critical about the whole situation.
"This is a sad precedent for democracy in BC - will the RCMP actually spend the time to investigate Election Act violations in the future?"
In Court, Special Prosecutor Peter Wilson outline the details of the plea bargain and how Crown and defence counsel had agreed to a Statement of Facts in the case.
The charges came after a complaint from the NDP when a Chinese-language leaflet appeared in the riding falsely claiming that the party would legalize cocaine, heroin and prostitution as well introduce a "death tax".
The statement of facts also says Sall arranged for $5,900 worth of radio advertising on Fairchild and AM 1320 - Chinese radio stations - and disguised the expenditure as third party advertising by two persons who did not sponsor the ad. Sall paid for the ads through his business.
Sall's lawyer Richard Peck made a lengthy statement about the significant negative impact the charges had on Sall's reputation and ability to earn a living.
"This has been terribly depressing for him. He was on the cusp of signing a very significant consulting contract when this broke - he did not get the contract. He has not been employed since April 2010, has incurred substantial debt, spent his life saving and some of his RRSPs and has been shunned by organizations he was involved with," Peck said.
Wilson agreed in his summation, explaining in part why he agreed to the sentencing deal.
"Mr. Sall has become a pariah in the community," Wilson said.
Khanna's lawyer David Unterman also said his client, owner of North American Mailing, has suffered since the events of May 2009.
"His business has become terrible as a result," Unterman said, noting that Khanna was "relatively unsophisticated with regard to the Elections Act."
Sall and Khanna were both given two years to pay their fines.
UPDATE #3 continued - Letter to Elections BC from Gabriel Yiu requesting new investigation into Kash Heed 2009 election expenses:
Gabriel Yiu's letter to the chief electoral officer.
30th October, 2011
Dr. Keith Archer,
Chief Electoral Officer
PO Box 9275 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9J6
Re: New revelations concerning excessive spending by Kash Heed’s 2009 campaign
As a candidate who participated in the 2009 provincial election in Vancouver-Fraserview, I am writing to make a formal request for a new investigation into the supplementary report filed with Elections BC by the BC Liberal Party candidate Kash Heed on September 28, 2011.
On October 28, Kash Heed's campaign manager Barinder Sall revealed on CBC TV news , that the campaign he managed in 2009 exceeded the statutory spending limit by some $40,000, seven times the amount ($5,578.90) which Heed had declared in his recently filed supplementary report.
As you may be aware, Special Prosecutor Peter Wilson concluded and released his investigation report on April 2011 into Heed’s campaign report filed on August 7, 2009, while Chief Justice Bauman delivered his judgment on August 31, 2011.
Based on the serious allegations made by Sall, and on other information I have obtained through various sources, I respectfully submit that there are reasonable grounds to question the truthfulness of the supplementary report filed by Kash Heed on September 28 with Elections BC.
According to the Elections Act, Section 226, filing a false or misleading report is a serious offence, on commission of which “the member ceases to hold office and the seat of the member becomes vacant.”
In order to uphold public confidence in the integrity of our democratic system, I hereby request that Elections BC launch a new investigation into the supplementary report recently filed by Kash Heed.
New Democratic Party Candidate
Vancouver-Fraserview 2009 BC Election