Former N.L. financial director gets two years for role in spending scandal

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - The former financial director of the Newfoundland and Labrador legislature was sentenced Monday to two years in jail for his role in the province's spending scandal.
Bill Murray pleaded guilty in January to fraud and three counts of taking bribes in exchange for his influence from 1998 to 2006.
Three other charges of fraud, breach of trust and forging a document were withdrawn.
Murray, a married father of grown children, will also be placed on two years' probation, and he was ordered to write a letter of apology to the people of the province.
Murray was suspended in 2006 after the provincial auditor general released damning reports on overpayments to four politicians worth about $1 million. The audits also flagged payments to local companies worth another $2.6 million.
According to an agreed statement of facts read last month in Supreme Court, Murray took kickbacks both from a constituency allowance scheme and through bogus invoices billed to local companies for products never received.
Crown attorney Frances Knickle has said it's estimated Murray accepted about $400,000 in bribes, but it is impossible to know for certain.
The scheme allowed Murray, the only public servant charged in the spending scandal, to feed a $500-a-day slot machine habit.
In the agreed statement of facts, Murray admitted he hid expense claim overpayments to four former politicians in official spending reports to the legislature.
Those cheques went to former Liberal cabinet ministers Jim Walsh and Wally Andersen, former Conservative leader and cabinet minister Ed Byrne, and ex-NDP member Randy Collins.
All four were sent to jail. Byrne and Andersen have since been released on conditions.
Murray was also ordered Monday to repay $177,000 - the most lawyers for the prosecution and defence said last month the bankrupt man could reasonably afford.

Organizations: Supreme Court, NDP

Geographic location: ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland and Labrador

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