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West Nipissing Remembers
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Shortly after WN council agreed to take over the lease as suggested by Gagnon, the town received an invoice for $25,928.26, marked Durapatcher. It was explained that municipal treasurer Alisa Craddock addressed the issue with Gagnon, saying council had only agreed to take over the lease, not to pay Morrison’s equity in the machine. Court heard that Gagnon then told Morrison there was money available in the sidewalk budget, and two invoices were then sent for sidewalk work, the sum of which amounted to exactly $25,928.26.
“The two invoices were fraudulent,” acknowledged defense attorney Michael Lacey, but he added there was “no suggestion that [Gagnon] benefited in any way.”
Lacey called the error in judgement “an aberration” that was uncharacteristic of Gagnon, saying the “dedicated and accomplished civil servant” had worked for municipalities since 1989 and had an exemplary record of public service. He went on to describe Gagnon, aged 58, as a husband, father of three and grandfather who was very contrite and immediately accepted responsibility for his actions.
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by Suzanne Gammon
West Nipissing’s former Public Works Director, Marc Gagnon, will be spending the next months under house arrest after pleading guilty to uttering forged documents, but he’ll be keeping his job as CAO for the municipality of French River.
Gagnon was terminated by the municipality of WN in January 2015 after the town discovered ‘financial irregularities’ and launched an internal investigation, concluding that local contractor MX Constructors had been paid for work not performed, with the approval of Gagnon and then-Public Works Manager Luc Rifou, who was also fired. The two former employees were later charged criminally in the matter, along with MX Constructors owner Steve Morrison.
Gagnon initially faced six charges, including fraud and breach of trust, but all were withdrawn except the count of uttering forged documents, which relate to two invoices submitted by MX Constructors for sidewalk work, when in fact the payment sought was said to be for the purchase of a Durapatcher machine.
It was explained that Gagnon had recommended Morrison buy the machine, suggesting there would be a lot of work for it. MX Constructors had leased the Durapatcher, the agreement stating the company would make 60 payments of just over $1,600, with a $10 buyout at the end of the five-year term. In August 2015, Gagnon recommended that the municipality buy out the machine and do the patching work itself, “as a cost saving measure.” As stated in court, a lease with Roynat had the municipality assuming 39 monthly payments of $1,654, suggesting Morrison had already made at least 21 payments.