Special prosecutors David Butcher and Brock Martland have determined no further charges will stem from a police investigation into alleged personal spending by senior staff at the Legislature.
This, after the special prosecutors approved unprecedented criminal charges against former Clerk Craig James for breach of trust by a public officer (three charges) and fraud in excess of $5,000 (two charges) on Dec. 18, 2020.
That spending extended to the Legislature’s former top cop, sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz, who was subject to the investigation.
The prosecutors say they are not releasing any information as to the specific reasons for not pursuing more charges, other than to say the charge assessment standard was not met by looking at the RCMP’s final report to Crown Counsel.
Butcher and Martland were appointed to prevent a conflict of interest within government.
Craig James, former Clerk of the B.C. legislature | Times Colonist photo
While Lenz won’t face any possible criminal sanctions, an independent report in 2019 found he committed “very serious misconduct” by providing ““untruthful oral and written statements” to Justice Beverley McLachlin, who did clear Lenz of administrative misconduct allegations by then Speaker of the House Darryl Plecas.
The independent Police Act investigation report by Doug LePard found Lenz had committed Neglect of Duty under the Police Act for failing to adequately investigate misappropriation of liquor by James in 2013. LePard, however, concluded there were mitigating circumstances that ruled out possible discipline.
Lenz retired days ahead of the report’s release, in October 2019.
James is alleged to have used his position to advance his own personal interests over the public good between Sept. 10, 2011, and Nov. 21, 2018.
The charges allege that James improperly obtained and kept a long-service award in the amount of $257,988.38, bought a wood splitter and trailer with public funds and used it for his own benefit, and made fraudulent travel-expense claims.
James and Lenz also took numerous expensive junkets and bought personal items on the taxpayer’s dime, a January 2019 report from Plecas outlined.
It was in November 2018 when police escorted the two senior managers out of the Legislature after the announcement of two special prosecutors being assigned to an RCMP investigation, which has concluded.
Some improper conduct even extended to the Speaker position itself. Prior to 2017, now-retired Liberal MLA Linda Reid served the role, although she was forced to pay back money to the legislature after she had taxpayers fund her husband’s travel to South Africa for a legislature junket. Reid, LePard noted, refused to respond directly to his questions, instead choosing to use her lawyer.
James has pleaded not guilty to all five charges and elected a judge, not a jury, to run the trial, set to begin Jan. 24, 2022.
With files from Louise Dickson/Times Colonist