[JURIST] Former Canadian advertising executive Jean LaFleur plead guilty Friday to 28 counts of fraud for his alleged role in the federal sponsorship scandal [JURIST news archive; CBC backgrounder]. Lafleur is accused of billing the Canadian federal government for work which was never done, and ultimately bilking the government of almost $1.6 million in contracts his advertising firm obtained through a program designed to increase the federal government's presence in Quebec. His advertising firm, LaFleur Marketing and Communications, received $65 million through the federal sponsorship program between 1995 and 2003. Prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence. Lafleur is the not the first person charged in relation to the scandal. In May 2005, former Montreal advertising executive Paul Coffin pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to 15 counts of fraud, and former federal civil servant Chuck Guité [CTV profile] was found guilty [JURIST report] of defrauding the government in June 2006.
In November 2005, Justice John Gomery released his first report on the scandal [JURIST report], finding that former Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien and his chief of staff, Jean Pelletier, should be held accountable for the flawed running of the federal sponsorship program from 1994 to 2003. In 2006, Gomery released a second report [JURIST report], which included 18 recommendations for reining in prime ministerial power and recovering over $50 million from the advertising kickbacks scheme. CBC News has more.