12/12/2014 01:14 EST | Updated 02/11/2015 05:59 EST

Giorgio Mammoliti pleads guilty to 2010 election misspending

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti pleaded guilty to four counts of Municipal Elections Act violations for record-keeping errors made in his 2010 run for mayor and subsequent run for councillor.

Coun. Mammoliti was fined $17,500 for "inadvertent" election offences, plus a 25 per cent penalty applied to that amount as a mandatory fine surcharge.

An Ontario Court of Justice heard that Coun. Mammoliti was in excess of $10,000 in election spending in 2010, which included spending on campaign jackets that read Team Mammoliti.

The councillor for Ward 7 had an accountant working for him, but made "record-keeping errors" in that the accountant was not always readily available to reconcile campaign expenses.

Coun. Mammoliti jumped into the mayor's race in 2010 and began to fund raise for his campaign starting in January of 2010. In July of that year, he dropped out of the mayor's race and began a reelection campaign for council. The funds he raised as mayor were used for his council campaign, the court found.

The possible penalty for the spending was removal from office and disqualification from seeking future office.

But given Coun. Mammoliti's "personal circumstance" — his primary source of income was his councillor paycheque and he has "obligations" to his family — and the possibility the transition from mayoral candidate to council candidate caused the accounting errors, the prosecutor chose to be lenient and asked for a pecuniary penalty.

"This speaks to how complex [campaign finances are] and how I acted in good faith every step of the way," said Mammoliti after he returned back to city hall from court. 

Fair Elections Toronto, an elections watch group that instigated the investigation into Coun. Mammoliti's financing, called the ruling "outrageous" and characterized the accounting errors as cheating.

"According to the law, politicians that overspend their limit by even one dollar should be removed from office if they cannot prove that their cheating was inadvertent or an error in judgment," said the group.

Coun. Mammoliti has been in financing trouble before. He was docked three months pay — roughly $26,000 — for violating the code of conduct in taking $80,000 from a 2013 fundraiser. He spent more than $48,000 in legal fees fighting that decision.

He asked the city to pay his legal fees in that case, and city council voted to provide up to $20,000 in compensation, the maximum amount allowed under municipal law.