08/15/2013 12:58 EDT | Updated 10/15/2013 05:12 EDT

Giorgio Mammoliti has court hearing on election charges

Toronto Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti had his first court date today on charges he ran afoul of the law during the 2010 municipal election, with his lawyer saying the whole affair is "much ado about nothing."

The Ward 7 councillor stands charged with five offences under the Municipal Elections Act following an audit last winter into his finances that found he overspent his campaign limit by $12,065, or 44 per cent, and had other irregularities.

"It seems that it's much ado about nothing," Mammoliti's lawyer, Morris Manning, said outside of court. "Particularly having regard to the amount of money they’ve spent on these compliance audits — and the charge lists, what, $12,000 or something like that? I don't know how they arrived at that figure."

An independent prosecutor hired by the City of Toronto has charged Mammoliti with:

- Exceeding his campaign spending limit.

- Filing in incorrect financial statement.

- Filing an incorrect supplementary financial statement.

- Failing to keep proper expense records.

- Accepting cash contributions over $25.

The charges are for provincial offences, not criminal. In the extreme case, if a judge finds Mammoliti knowingly committed the alleged offences, he could be jailed for six months. Otherwise, the maximum penalty is a $25,000 fine on each charge and possible removal from office.

Thursday's brief hearing, at Old City Hall in downtown Toronto, was merely for evidence disclosure and to set another court date. Mammoliti did not attend.

It was reported last month that he is under doctor's orders to keep his stress levels and workload down following emergency brain and sinus surgery in the spring.

He is not the only municipal politician facing prosecution over alleged election contraventions. Last week, an independent city committee voted to bring charges against former city councillor Peter Li Preti, who ran to get his old seat back in 2010. An audit of his campaign finances had found he accepted 46 illegal corporate contributions totalling $21,000.

In all, outside auditors hired by the city have now scrutinized the 2010 election finances of seven candidates, including Mammoliti, Li Preti and Mayor Rob Ford. A city report last month put the total cost so far of those audits at $491,000.