Paralegal Standing Committee (PSC) Candidate, Francesco (Frank) Alfano, has been found guilty of driving while his licence was suspended.
Judgment was rendered Feb. 28, after a trial that began last June. Alfano was found guilty under section 53(1) of the Highway Traffic Act . The matter carries a penalty of a fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $5,000; or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both.
The Court will register a conviction. Sentencing submissions are scheduled for June.
Alfano told SCOPE in an email that he will appeal the decision.
Alfano was charged in May 2012. According to the decision, Alfano admitted having many outstanding fines when an OPP officer followed a vehicle from the Burlington Provincial Offences Court parking lot, to an address in Hamilton:
… the Defendant was showing continued due diligence in taking care of many outstanding fines in many jurisdictions over the years. At one juncture the Defendant was paying outstanding fines to 7 jurisdictions which had now since been reduced to 3 jurisdictions, those being Newmarket, Burlington and Scarborough. The Defendant admitted to having a shameful record of owing money and had served a 30 day sentence for driving while suspended in March, 2005. He described himself as somewhat disorganized but effective in Court so much so that he has created many ‘enemies’ within the police force… He also admitted having had a large highway 407 invoice to pay and, at one point, drove with an expired validation tag. Despite this ‘spotty’ record, Mr. Alfano wished the Court to consider that he valued his reputation above all else; that he is a reformed driver and not the man he was some years ago.
According to Crown submissions, Alfano “had been effectively suspended for nine years and the only reason he continued to drive is that he was using an out-of-court process, an administrative process to gain time to pay his fines.”
Alfano had testified that he had relied on incorrect information provided over the phone by a clerk. Justice of the Peace Gerry Manno found that testimony was not sufficient.
The justice noted that “The onus was on the Defendant to show some form of mistake of fact or due diligence once the actus reus had been proven by the Crown. He did not take reasonable steps to avoid the suspension in our view. Also if he reasonably believed in a mistaken set of facts, his lack of evidence beyond his own assertion was not enough to convince the Court that the mistake of fact was the result of being ‘misled’ by the clerical staff of the courts on a balance of probabilities standard.”
Justice Manno found: “Another reasonable conclusion one might reach is that Mr. Alfano, being somewhat disorganized with the complexity of his affairs, may have inadvertently allowed his license to lapse.”
See Sentencing, June 27