You can—in a law-school-essay, sentencing-guidelines way—justify Justice David MacAdam’s decision to sentence disgraced former MLA Richard Hurlburt to house arrest instead of clapping him off to jail.
But not in the real world.
Richard Hurlburt repeatedly violated the trust of his electors while bilking taxpayers of more than $25,000, and then attempted—until the truth trapped him—to justify his actions.
In his decision, MacAdam argued “there were no other aggravating factors… other than abuse of his position of trust.”
Is that not aggravating enough?
MacAdam also did his best to draw distinctions between Hurlburt’s case and that of fellow former MLA Dave Wilson, who is now serving jail time in the expense scandal.
While Wilson had claimed expenses in the names of other people, the judge pointed out, there was no evidence Hurlburt “involved anyone else” in his illegal dealings.
What about the generator salesman, whose price “estimate” Hurlburt turned into a phony invoice and submitted as an expense? What about the taxpayers?
And remember, Dave Wilson was a gambling addict. Hurlburt was just greedy. That to me is especially aggravating.
MacAdams added Hurlburt “resigned shortly after the release of the auditor’s report, a year before charges were brought against him. He has issued repeated public apologies. He has taken full responsibility for his actions.”
Fact check time.
Hurlburt resigned because he’d been caught in his own fraud.
In February 2010, when he was first outed as the purchaser of the $8,000 generator—it took him another week to fess up to the $2,500 TV—Hurlburt didn’t apologize. He claimed the generator had been purchased “to assist local organizations in the event of a power failure.”
In truth, there was no $8,000 generator; he pocketed that money and only bought a cheaper one after the auditor general began poking around.
He also claimed he’d simply followed existing expenses regulations. There is no regulation allowing fraudulent claims.
Hurlburt’s resignation letter did say he was leaving “with deep regret and sorrow.” For what? He didn’t say. He’d already escaped to his vacation home in Florida and unavailable for comment.
Full responsibility? Not by a long shot.