06/05/2014 10:52 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 01:00 EDT

Ex-Liberal minister Tony Tomassi gets community service, fine in credit-card case

QUEBEC - A former Quebec Liberal cabinet minister has been sentenced to community service and given a fine after pleading guilty in a case involving illegal use of a credit card.

Tony Tomassi avoided jail time after Quebec court Judge Helene Bouillon agreed Thursday to a joint sentence recommendation between the Crown and defence.

Tomassi will serve 240 hours of community service over 18 months and pay a total of $11,750 — some in donations and some in the form of a reimbursement to the government.

According to a statement of facts, Tomassi used a credit card on some 60 occasions between November 2007 and December 2008.

It was provided by now-defunct BCIA, a security company that received millions in government grants.

Tomassi, 43, used the card during that period to buy $6,995.31 worth of gas. All the while, he was claiming expenses as part of his official duties.

Earlier on Thursday, Tomassi pleaded guilty to a fraud-related charge of receiving a material benefit from a third party, while two other charges of fraud and breach of trust were stayed.

Both sides agreed that Tomassi, who has no previous criminal record, has already had to deal with the stigma of public opinion.

In handing down the sentence, Bouillon noted that Tomassi's actions caused considerable damage to the province's political class.

"This serves to discredit all those who occupy this job that is so essential to society," the judge said.

The 240 hours of community work is the maximum allowed by law.

The $11,750 includes $2,550 Tomassi is obliged to reimburse to the province's Finance Department for expenses claimed while he was using the credit card.

The rest will be donations, including $6,200 he has already given.

Another $3,000 will be donated to a victims' rights organization.

According to the statement of facts read in court, Tomassi didn't inform government authorities about a possible conflict of interest.

The ex-family minister was forced out of the Liberal caucus in 2010 by then-premier Jean Charest after reports surfaced he had been using the card.

In May 2012, Tomassi resigned his seat in the Montreal-area riding of LaFontaine, which he'd held for nine years.