Trevor Zinck

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Trevor J. Zinck
MLA for Dartmouth North
In office
June 13, 2006 – June 19, 2013
Preceded by Jerry Pye
Personal details
Born (1970-11-12) November 12, 1970 (age 43)
Political party Independent (2010-2013)
NDP (2006-2010)
Spouse(s) Elizabeth

Trevor J. Zinck (born November 12, 1970) is a Canadian politician, a former member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly who represented the riding of Dartmouth North as an Independent and a New Democrat. He was first elected for the New Democratic Party in the 2006 election, succeeding retiring NDP MLA Jerry Pye. He served as the Community Services critic for the NDP, and was re-elected in the 2009 election. Zinck pleaded guilty on June 17, 2013 to charges of fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust by a public officer[1] and later resigned as a result.[2]

Constituency expense issues[edit]

On March 25, 2010, Zinck was suspended from the Nova Scotia NDP caucus over "persistent" expense irregularities.[3] In making the decision, caucus chair Vicki Conrad stated that the government caucus could no longer trust Zinck, telling reporters "We decided to suspend him because members feel we do not have the necessary trust in his conduct as a member of this caucus."[3] The province's auditor general was subsequently called in to investigate the matter.[4]

On February 14, 2011, it was announced that Zinck was among four people facing criminal charges in connection with the RCMP investigation into 2010s MLA expense scandal. Zinck was charged with fraud exceeding $5,000, breach of trust by a public officer, and two counts of theft over $5,000, after filing fraudulent expense claims totaling $10,060.[5] Among the items was a cheque for $860 intended to sponsor a young hockey player from Zinck's riding, which Zinck subsequently filed an expense claim for.[6] The boy's father testified during the trial that the family never received the money, though Zinck was nonetheless reimbursed for it.[6] A substantial portion of the $10,060 was earmarked for the Boys and Girls Club of Dartmouth, though employees of the Boys and Girls club testified that Zinck failed to give them the money he had claimed as expenses.[6] The business manager of a non-profit woodworking shop, a man by the name of Gus Brushett, testified that Zinck had paid $660 to participate in a golf tournament in the summer of 2008 and subsequently filed an expense claim for $1,200 in April 2008, for which he was reimbursed.[6] The Crown also introduced Zinck's bank records as evidence which showed a series of late-night withdrawals made from his personal and constituency accounts from automated teller machines inside Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax.[6]

A preliminary hearing for Zinck had been postponed several times[7] and a trial date was set for June 10, 2013.[8] Zinck pleaded guilty on June 17, 2013 to charges of fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust by a public officer.[1] With the guilty plea, the charges of theft over $5,000 were withdrawn. Zinck admitted in an agreed statement of facts that he filed expense claims totaling $10,060 in 2008 and 2009 for which the Speaker's Office reimbursed him, despite the fact that the items listed in his claims were never actually purchased.[9]

Despite the guilty pleas and the criminal record, Zinck was reluctant to resign his seat in the legislature,[10] saying "There are bigger crooks in politics."[11]

Leaders of all three major parties, including Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie and Opposition Leader Stephen McNeil, all called for his immediate resignation, saying that Premier Darrell Dexter should recall the house and put forward a motion to expel Zinck.[10] "I think the fair thing is for if this is going to finish on August 7th for the court process to be completed and then for the House to deal with it if that’s necessary," said Dexter.[12][13]

Despite promises not to resign, Zinck did in fact resign as an MLA on June 19, 2013. He made the decision after being informed by a reporter that his severance package, formally called a "transition allowance", would not be available to him should his exit from the legislature come via expulsion. Zinck promptly contacted legislative counsel to confirm that his transition allowance would be in jeopardy, and then immediately announced his resignation.[2]

Two days later, on June 21, 2013, the Nova Scotia government announced that it was holding back Zinck's $51,000 transition allowance until it could ensure Zinck would pay back the money he owes,[14] a move Zinck said was not fair when informed of it.[15] Zinck stated upon his resignation that he didn't want to lose the transition allowance because a single mother employed at his constituency office would then be left with no income.[15] However, Speaker of the Legislature Gordie Gosse said that the employee is paid from a separate fund administered by Gosse's office, and would not benefit from the transition allowance as Zinck had claimed.[15] Gosse said the woman employed at Zinck's office had worked for more than two years and would thus be entitled to twelve weeks' pay as a result of the office closure.[15] Gosse stated that if money is still owed by Zinck, it will be deducted from the transition allowance by the province and whatever remains will be given to Zinck.[16]

On August 7, 2013, Zinck's sentencing hearing was adjourned until September 19, 2013.[17] His lawyer, Lyle Howe, asked Judge Glen McDougall for the delay in order to get a mental health assessment for his client. [17] Zinck had no comment when approached by reporters outside court.[17] On August 16, 2013, Zinck's sentencing hearing was again rescheduled to October 1, 2013, when Howe told the provincial Supreme Court that he required more time to prepare.[18]

Zinck's name was absent from the final list of candidates for the 2013 Nova Scotia provincial election, meaning that he decided not to run for re-election. He had earlier stated in August 2013 that he still planned to run provincially.[19]

On October 9, 2013, Zinck was sentenced to four months in jail and one year of probation. He must also attend counselling regarding mental health, alcoholic abuse and gambling abuse.[20]

Personal[edit]

Zinck attended Sir John A. Macdonald High School.[citation needed] Prior to entering politics, Zinck was the head of the Dartmouth District 9 Citizens' association.[citation needed]

On October 8, 2010, the company holding the mortgage on Zinck's house, Credit Union Atlantic, stated that it intended to foreclose.[21] At the same time, Scott Marshall, a man suffering from cerebral palsy who had hired Zinck to be his caregiver, alleged that Zinck fraudulently ran up a $9,000 bill on his Visa card playing online poker.[21] Marshall said he was facing bankruptcy as a result.[21]

Zinck has admitted to drinking and gambling problems in the past,[21] for which he received counselling to "address the issues".[3] However, following an incident on October 2, 2013, he was charged with impaired driving[22] after registering a breathalyzer reading above the legal limit of 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. On January 27, 2014, Zinck pleaded not guilty to the charge of drunk driving in a Dartmouth courtroom.[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Jackson, David. MLA Trevor Zinck admits guilt, Halifax Chronicle Herald, June 17, 2013.
  2. ^ a b JACKSON, DAVID (June 20, 2013). "Convicted MLA Zinck resigns". The Chronicle Herald. Retrieved June 20, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c CBC News (March 25, 2010). "Zinck admits to drinking, gambling problems". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved June 20, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Auditor general to investigate Zinck". CBC News, March 26, 2010.
  5. ^ "MLA spending probe in N.S. gets 4 charged". CBC News, February 14, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d e CTV News (June 13, 2013). "Trevor Zinck broke promise to sponsor boy who wanted to play hockey, trial told". CTV. Retrieved June 20, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Zinck preliminary hearing delayed again". CBC News. October 13, 2011. Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  8. ^ Trevor Zinck's MLA spending scandal trial dates confirmed, Global Maritimes, September 25, 2012.
  9. ^ CBC News (June 19, 2013). "Dexter poised to rule on Trevor Zinck case". cbc.ca. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b The Canadian Press (June 18, 2013). "MLAs calling for Zinck's resignation". Cape Breton Post. Retrieved June 18, 2013. 
  11. ^ CBS News (June 20, 2013). "Trevor Zinck held on to MLA seat until bitter end". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved June 20, 2013. 
  12. ^ Natasha Pace (June 18, 2013). "Premier and opposition call for Zinck to resign, he refuses". Global News. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  13. ^ Jackson, David (June 18, 2013). "Dexter: Zinck must resign or be expelled". The Halifax Chronicle Herald. Retrieved June 18, 2013. 
  14. ^ CBC News (June 21, 2013). "Government holding back Trevor Zinck’s $51K severance". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c d Doucette, Keith (June 21, 2013). "Severance for disgraced former MLA held up by Speaker's office". THE CANADIAN PRESS. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  16. ^ The Canadian Press (June 21, 2013). "N.S. to hold back Zinck severance". The Chronicle Herald. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  17. ^ a b c THE CHRONICLE HERALD (August 7, 2013). "Zinck sentencing hearing put over to Sept. 19". Halifax Chronicle-Herald. Retrieved August 7, 2013. 
  18. ^ THE CANADIAN PRESS (August 16, 2013). "New date set for sentencing in Trevor Zinck's fraud case". CTV News. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  19. ^ Fraser, Laura (September 25, 2013). "Disgraced ex-MLA Zinck does not seek re-election". The Chronicle Herald. Retrieved September 25, 2013. 
  20. ^ Bruce, Steve (October 9, 2013). "Zinck gets four months for fraud breach of trust". The Chronicle Herald. Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  21. ^ a b c d CBC News (October 8, 2010). "MLA Zinck could lose house". CBC.ca. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Trevor Zinck charged with impaired driving". CBC News. October 3, 2013. Retrieved October 3, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Former N.S. politician Trevor Zinck pleads not guilty to drunk driving". Cape Breton Post. January 27, 2014. Retrieved January 27, 2014.