A former Halifax resident who ran for the Progressive Conservatives in the last provincial election has pleaded guilty to a charge of using a forged cheque.
Paul Edward Beasant, 52, entered the plea Tuesday, when he appeared in Halifax provincial court by phone from Ontario, where he’s living now.
Beasant committed the offence at an RBC Royal Bank branch in Bedford on Dec. 14, 2016. A cheque for more than $90,000 that he deposited into his bank account was later determined to be fraudulent.
Halifax Regional Police announced in January 2018 that Beasant had been charged with fraud over $5,000 and uttering a forged document.
Beasant was scheduled to go to trial Tuesday on both charges, but defence lawyer Trevor McGuigan advised the Crown a few days beforehand that his client would be pleading guilty to the single count.
McGuigan asked that sentencing be adjourned until mid-March but said he was not asking for a pre-sentence report, “as I don’t think it’s necessary in this case.”
He said he and prosecutor Sean McCarroll expect to have a joint sentencing recommendation for the court, so the hearing should be “relatively brief.”
“Not to reveal all of the details of the negotiation between my friend and myself, but an essential aspect of the sentencing will be restitution,” McGuigan said.
The plan is for part of the restitution to be made prior to the sentencing, he explained to the court.
Judge Gregory Lenehan booked the sentencing for March 18 and gave permission for Beasant to participate in the hearing from Ontario, either by video or by phone.
“I have in the last few months conducted sentencing hearings with the offender being in another jurisdiction appearing by video if available … (or) over the phone,” Lenehan said.
“I will only do that where there is no suggestion of custody being requested. If the Crown’s recommendation is going to be custody, then I require the person to be physically present.”
McCarroll confirmed that the Crown would be OK with Beasant appearing virtually for his sentencing.
In an interview after Tuesday’s proceeding, McCarroll said he could not reveal how much money the bank ended up being defrauded of because an agreed statement of facts is still being worked out with the defence.
Beasant was the Tory candidate in the riding of Fairview-Clayton Park in the May 2017 election, finishing third out of the four people who ran for the seat.
He is the host of Late Night with Dr. Paul, a television talk show that used to be produced in Halifax by Eastlink but is now based in Toronto.