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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Questions swirl about Fontana

Update 2:

There is a Dec. post on the blog The closer you look . . . examining Trinity Global charitable work. It is a good read.  Unfortunately, this blog now requires a password to access. Strange. This closer-you-look blog broke some of the early stuff in the Fontana story. I left the link but it seems to be a deadend today. I wonder who is behind this blog.
Accounting on World's AIDS Day.

And here is a link to a February 21, 2013, story in The London Free Press. Chip Martin is doing a great job covering this story. Read: Feds target charity chaired by Fontana.

Older update:

The Sat. Aug. 18, 2012 edition of The London Free Press carried an article by Chip Martin under the headline: Fontana-led charity threatens lawsuits.

According to the Martin piece, a charity (Trinity Global) headed by London Mayor Joe Fontana has threatened to sue the London daily and two city hall bloggers - Gina Barber and Phil McLeod - over stories they all ran about the charity and the mayor.

The London Free Press online headline that drew the lawyer's attention read: "Fontana's connections draw scrutiny, Foundation chaired by mayor founded by securities fraudster."

Chip Martin reported:

Fontana is chairman of Trinity Global Foundation, a charity established by a boyhood chum who faces accusations of fraud and misleading investors of $19 million. Fontana's son, Ugo Joseph, is president.

Joe Fontana joined the board of Trinity Global in 2008. . . . He joined at the invitation of his boyhood friend from Timmins, Vincent Ciccone, who founded it a year earlier.

Ciccone left Trinity Global after Ontario securities regulators said he defrauded and misled investors with his private investment firm, Ciccone Group, to the tune of $19 million between 2008 to 2010.
"Vince is a friend and always will be," Fontana said. "What people do in their private lives is their own business. I'm not associated in that respect."

Reading this story brought to mind another story in which Joe Fontana and Vince Ciccone featured prominently. Read the following from Hansard for October 26, 1988:


RENTERPRISE LOAN


Mr. Pope: My question is to the Premier and it concerns exactly his new standards. It is with respect to a decision made by the former Minister of Housing, the member for Scarborough North (Mr. Curling), and implemented by the current Minister of Housing (Ms. Hošek), concerning just who exactly profits from his nonprofit and public housing programs in this province.

Specifically, I am referring the Premier to a controversial construction project in the city of Timmins that has been before the city of Timmins council in the last week. Can the Premier justify the awarding of a Renterprise approval in Timmins to his campaign worker, Joe Fontana, and his associate, Vince Ciccone, both of London, and allowing them within one minute on September 3 to flip land for a profit of $66,820?

Hon. Mr. Peterson: I have no knowledge of the matter the honourable member is speaking of. If he wants to give me the details, I will obviously look into it.

Mr. Pope: Not only was the land acquired in one minute and disposed of the next for a profit of $66,820, but can the Premier explain to us how someone like Joe Fontana, who professes to be one of his campaign workers, with no development experience, no construction experience and no site available, would ever be approved for a Renterprise loan in the first place?

Hon. Mr. Peterson: I have absolutely no knowledge of the matter my honourable friend is talking about. I can assure him we will look at it. Somebody just handed me a note, and if I can understand it, I will read it to him.

Mr. Pope: The fact of the matter is that over the past few months this project has been beset by deficiencies in construction, stop-work orders, construction liens, poor quality workmanship, still not completed, occupied by tenants on a rent subsidy basis that his Minister of Housing is involved in. His Minister of Housing approved financial support to the tune of $310,000. Now they are attempting to convert the project into condominiums to get out from under.

Can the Premier explain to the tenants of Timmins, who need this housing desperately, why he has allowed deterioration in the administration of the Renterprise program in this province, and specifically the disgraceful events that went on in Timmins with respect to this land and his campaign worker?

Hon. Mr. Peterson: As I said, I will look at the facts and share them with my honourable friend. He may well know something I do not know.

At the time that this appeared in Hansard, The London Free Press chased the story and ran an interview with Lionel Bonhomme of Timmins,  the original owner of the land at the centre of the controversy. A reference to the article can be found in Hansard.

Joe Fontana has had a colourful career since he appeared on the City of London radar many years ago when he led a group opposed to the locating of a federal prison in the London area. Fontana was successful; A prison was not located here.

If you are interested in the tax shelter angle to this story, here are some links:


The mayor was the focus of a post, Something smells, by Gina Barber, formerly a member of the old Board of Control. This article on Barber's personal blog drew the following comment. (Please note: I (Rockinon) googled some stuff stated in this comment. I found no solid support for the claim that there was anything legally inappropriate going on between Neil Friesen and Associates and One World United.:

I have invested in the company you [Gina Barber] mention in your article "Something Smells", dated Jan 3, 2011. . . . CEO Derk Maat , hasn't honored paying the promised dividends in January 2011. I invested in 2008 and never once received any financial statements , audited or unaudited, no Annual Report or any analysis done by a professional. This has been requested recently, but instead of coming up with the above, I am thanked for my patience and received some more empty promises. The contracts were handled by Neil Friesen and Associates from Winnipeg and they even have trouble finding the "exact" person that handled the transaction. The company came highly recommended as an institution run by Christians...I find this very ironic. I have just started to get behind all this and your article made a few very interesting points such as the fact that nobody really knows where GPEC is and exactly what it is they are doing. It is all stipulated on their website, but once you try to follow up, the only valid link is KMW energy. Their CEO, Mr Rosen also responded very favourably to Joe Fontana's intentions of cleaning up the city...Nothing wrong with that, it just seems like a strange chain. Not too long ago Friesen's involvement in the One World United scam, raised concern. What can I say, something smells....very bad indeed...  [

One could argue it is not fair to the mayor to have all these nebulous accusations swirling about, he deserves a full, in-depth, public examination to, let's say, clear the air.

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