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Judge reserves decision on former Yarmouth MLA's sentencing.Thursday, July 5th 2012
Judge David MacAdam is scheduled to hand down his sentence on July 27th in Yarmouth.
Richard Hurlburt pleaded guilty in April to fraud and breach of trust.
According to an agreed statement of facts presented today, Hurlburt committed fraud totalling just over 25-thousand dollars between December 2006 and December 2008.
It says he submitted four claims for expenses that were not incurred in his constituency work. Court was also told that Hurlburt reimbursed the Speaker's Office $11,073 in February 2010 and $14,247 last month.
Judge David MacAdam reserved his decision on Hurlburt's sentence until July 27.
The false claims submitted by Hurlburt include one for a $9,000 Honda generator that was not purchased.
Two other expense claims total nearly $13,000 for renovations to his constituency office. Hurlburt was reimbursed more than $5,000 for renovations that were not done.
He was also reimbursed more than $3,500 for the purchase and installation of a 40-inch LCD television at his home.
Hurlburt has since reimbursed the Speaker's Office.
The hearing began with defence lawyer Stan Macdonald calling three character witnesses.
The first was Shirley Hubbard chair of the Yarmouth County Hospice Society.
She told the court she's known Richard Hurlburt for many years and is proud to know him.
She said Hurlburt always kept his word and said quote "I respect him very much."
Hubbard said despite what he did, Hurlburt was and is a man of integrity.
Next up was Rev Bill Newell a very good friend of Hurlburt and his family.
Rev Newell said Hurlburt always helped those less fortunate .
Newell said the former MLAS admitted he did wrong and this has taken a heavy toll on him personally .
The next character witness was lawyer Martin Pink.
He said he's know Hurlburt since 1979 and spoke of how hard Hurlburt worked for the community and cited his many accomplishments including the very building where Hurlburt will eventually be sentenced.
The 62 year old Hurlburt emotionally addressed the court.
"I am taking full responsibility for my actions and I deeply regret the embarrassment I have caused my family. I am a lucky man in that my family, my friends and many in my community have forgiven me and supported my wife and I in this difficult time. … I know the public faith in the political system is fragile and I regret that my actions may have led to an increased distrust in the political system."
Hurlburt looked gaunt and tired.
Martin Pink testified that Hurlburt has lost 25 to 30 pounds, hasn't been sleeping well and has had some recent health problems that may be associated with the stress from the case.
Crown lawyer Andrew Macdonald says Hurlburt committed a significant breach of the public's trust.
He says Hurlburt deserved a sentence in line with what was given to Dave Wilson, a former Liberal member of the legislature who was sentenced to nine months in jail in the scandal.
He recommended a sentence of between nine and 12 months in jail, followed by a period of probation for Hurlburt.
Defence lawyer Stan MacDonald said Hurlburt deserves credit because he has shown remorse, apologized and paid the money back.
He called for a nine-month conditional sentence consisting of six months of house arrest and three months of curfew, as well as 200 hours of community service.
The courtroom was packed with reporters, the curious and many of Hurlburt's supporters and family.
He is the second former member of the legislature to plead guilty in the scandal.