05/03/2015 05:00 EDT | Updated 05/03/2016 05:12 EDT

Mike Duffy Trial: Following The Trail Of Cheques

A review of all the payments made by Gerald Donohue for a number of services incurred by Mike Duffy reveals that the suspended senator's friend doled out 31 cheques totaling $33,028.68 to 14 different individuals or companies.

That money came from a series of Senate research contacts worth $64,916.50 awarded by Duffy to Donohue, mostly to perform editorial, research, consulting and speech-writing services. 

And the balance of that nearly $65,000? So far, witnesses, court exhibits and RCMP documents have yet to make clear what happened to the rest of that money — $31,887.82.

Over the first 17 days of the Duffy trial, Crown prosecutors have called a series of witnesses to testify, in part, that they received cheque payments from Donohue, through his family-owned company Maple Ride Media Inc. (which later became Ottawa ICF). These payments were for services incurred by Duffy as a senator between and including the years 2009 and 2012, the trial has heard.

For example, the first cheque, paid through Maple Ridge Media, went to L. Ian Macdonald, a former speech writer for prime minister Brian Mulroney and currently a freelance writer and consultant. MacDonald was hired shortly after Duffy became a senator to write a speech that was titled "Why I am a Conservative."

The $7,350 MacDonald received for the speech was deposited on April 3, 2009. However, Donohue's first government cheque for his first contract with Duffy ($10,500) is dated April 22, 2009, meaning Donohue paid for this speech expense before he had received any money from his first Duffy-related contract.

Why Duffy got Donohue to pay any of these particular expenses using the $65,000 Donohue received in contract money has yet to be fully explained at the trial. Duffy's defence lawyer, Donald Bayne, has argued that while it was "administratively irregular" to not have these expenses paid out through Senate finance, the action certainly was not criminal.

Some witnesses have testified that invoicing Maple Ridge Media Inc. or Ottawa ICF ensured a faster payment than having to go through Senate finance.

However, it's the Crown's contention that Duffy set up a fund with Donohue to pay for some inappropriate or non-parliamentary services — expenses, the Crown believes, wouldn't have been covered by Senate finance. Some of these expenses have included payments for makeup, a personal fitness trainer and personal photos.

As for the editorial and consulting services that Donohue himself was contracted to perform — the RCMP has alleged that Donohue was paid "for little or no apparent work."

Donohue, the RCMP allege, was awarded contracts and paid "an inflated rate for the type of service purportedly provided."

Donohue himself has said, according to the RCMP documents, that he did not "produce any tangible document, report or work product," "never did speech writing" and "didn't perform the duties" described in his broad job description. 

Meanwhile, according to an RCMP affidavit filed by then Sgt. Greg Horton, the lead investigator of the Duffy case, Donohue stated that the "money was paid to the business, and that he never personally received any of it." 

Duffy faces 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery related to his Senate expense claims and their repayment. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The Donohue cheques

* The date of the actual date of the cheque to MacDonald is unclear. The April 3 date is the day the cheque was deposited.

Government payments to Gerald Donohue (or Donohue family related firm) for 4 contracts

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