Court of Appeal of Quebec

R. c. Fedele

November 16, 2018

500-10-006699-183; 500-10-006697-187; 500-10-006696-189; 500-10-006698-185

Bich, Mainville, Healy

Applications for leave to appeal from sentence. Allowed. Appeals from sentence. Allowed in part.

On March 5, 2018, the trial judge sentenced the respondents to conditional sentences to be served in the community ranging from 18 months to 24 months less 1 day for various offences of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, forgery, use of forged documents and conspiracy to make and use forged documents. The applicant asks the Court to reverse the Court of Quebec’s judgment and to substitute the sentences it sought at trial, that is, a sentence of 36 to 42 months’ imprisonment for Fedele, a sentence of 24 to 30 months’ imprisonment for Badra, and sentences of imprisonment of 21 months and 24 months less 1 day for Lavoie and Alain, respectively. 

In 2004, the maximum sentence for the offence of fraud went from 10 to 14 years of imprisonment, which reflects the seriousness of this type of offence. Furthermore, fraud organized to circumvent the rules governing the award of public contracts carries additional objective seriousness because of the elevated threat this kind of crime poses to society since, if unstopped, it may lead over time to the loss of credibility of political and social institutions and thus undermine the rule of law.  By focusing on the absence of the aggravating factor of abuse of trust, the judge did not accurately portray the objective seriousness of the fraud committed in this case. The result amounts to minimizing, even trivializing, the respondents’ highly blameworthy behaviour. 

In addition, the subjective gravity of the offences committed by the respondents was greatly - but mistakenly - minimized by the judge. Even though there is no exact figure for the total amount obtained from the fraud committed, the record as a whole, and in particular the fraudulently obtained contracts of a value exceeding $15 million, unavoidably leads to the conclusion that it is large-scale fraud for which the appropriate sentencing range is between three and five years’ imprisonment, given the absence of abuse of trust. The offences related to forgery and using forged documents involved transactions totalling nearly $1 million. The judge nonetheless ruled that no connection could be made between the false invoices and the fraud in the award of public contracts, or the false invoices and tax fraud. The Crown did not appeal those conclusions, and the Court is therefore bound by them.

In the circumstances, the sentences rendered by the judge are clearly inconsistent with the principles of public condemnation and denunciation. Therefore, 3 of the 4 respondents are sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from 18 to 36 months.

*Summary by SOQUIJ
Text of the decision: Http:// This link open an external website in a new window.

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