Former Liberal cabinet minister and current London, Ontario Mayor Joe Fontana has been charged by the RCMP for allegedly using federal government money to pay for his son's wedding reception.
According to a RCMP press release, Fontana was charged, Wednesday, with three criminal code offenses: fraud under $5,000, breach of trust by a public official and uttering forged documents.
"In October, 2012, the RCMP was contacted by the House of Commons in regards to an alleged inappropriate use of funds by Mr. Fontana while he was serving as a Member of Parliament in 2005," the statement notes.
"Mr. Fontana is scheduled to appear at the London Provincial Court House on January 08, 2013"
According to sources of the London Free Press, Fontana used two MP or ministerial cheques — in the amount of over $19,000 — to pay for the party at the London Marconi Club in 2005.
"The only thing I can say is that parents and kids are responsible for paying for their weddings and I know of no documentation, that I know of, that I've seen. No one's ever talked to me about what you've just asked," he said.
"I can only tell you that in 18 years in Parliament, I think I've had a stellar reputation in terms of my budget and my administration with regards to taxpayers' dollars."
Fontana did not speak with media on Wednesday, but his lawyer has scheduled a news conference for Thursday at 1pm.
In a letter posted to his website on Tuesday — prior to the announcement of the charges — the mayor insisted that he would not be stepping down from his post in light of the allegations.
"Make no mistake, I treat the allegations that have been levied as serious, but I have not and will not allow them to be a distraction from my duties and obligations of my office," he wrote.
He might not have a choice in the matter, however.
According to the Canadian Press, there was already a motion in place, set to be tabled at the city's Finance Committee on Monday, calling on Fontana to step down pending the RCMP investigation.
City council was expected vote on that motion next month.