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London Mayor Joe Fontana pleads not guilty in fraud case

London Mayor Joe Fontana walks to the London, Ont., courthouse with his wife, Vicky, on the first day of his fraud trial on May 26, 2014.

DAVE CHIDLEY/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The mayor of London, Ont., has pleaded not guilty to three fraud-related charges from his time as a Liberal member of Parliament.

The Crown alleges Joe Fontana used taxpayer dollars to help pay for his son's wedding reception in 2005 at the Marconi Club in London.

Fontana pleaded not guilty on the first day of his trial today to fraud, uttering a forged document and breach of trust by a public official.

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They allege Fontana wrote a $1,700 cheque as a deposit then submitted a claim for a government expense along with a "significantly altered" contract from the Marconi Club.

The Crown says among the alterations were changing the date, the word "wedding" to "reception" on the contract and the addition of a yellow sticky note saying "misc constituents reception."

Fontana's lawyer, Gord Cudmore, says his client admits making those changes, but what is at issue in the trial is the purpose of the $1,700 cheque.

"What was its intended purpose and what was it submitted for?" Cudmore said at the outset of the judge-alone trial.

"You will find in the course of the evidence called it is the position of the defence that the cheque had nothing whatsoever to do with the wedding."

Fontana has refused to leave the mayor's chair while his case is before the courts.

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