Suspended Canadian senator faces 31 charges

The Associated PressJuly 17, 2014 

— The Royal Canadian Mounted Police on Thursday laid 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery against a suspended senator who is accused of receiving $90,000 from Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former chief of staff.

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud said the charges against Sen. Mike Duffy cover more than $200,000 in allegedly falsified expenses.

The charges also cover money Duffy allegedly received from Nigel Wright, the prime minister's former chief of staff, to repay the government for the improperly claimed expenses.

Convictions on the charges could result in a prison sentence. The bribery count carries a maximum of 14 years.

The charges include money the senator, who lives in and represents a constituency in Prince Edward Island, claimed for living expenses on what he said was a secondary residence in Ottawa, as well as expenses he charged for travel on personal or political business.

Canada's governing Conservative party has tried to distance itself from Duffy's scandals since allegations of misspending began in December 2012. The former Conservative senator was suspended without pay in November 2013.

A spokesman for Harper called the behavior described in the charges "disgraceful."

"Those who break the rules must suffer the consequences," Jason MacDonald said in a statement.

Duffy's first court appearance is set for Sept. 16, the day after Parliament is scheduled to resume.

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