TORONTO - If it appears that time drags on with little to no change, that may be an accurate observation. At least when it comes to legal matters before the courts. Specifically, the matter in which a Halton Catholic District School Board trustee is concerned.
On January 18, nearly one year to the date of arrest (January 21, 2021), Oakville trustee, Nancy Guzzo was scheduled to appear (for the ninth time) with her Counsel in the Hamilton courts before a judge to dispose of criminal fraud charges - twelve in total. Unfortunately, neither she nor her counsel appeared to take the issue seriously. Her counsel waited until Crown counsel called around 4:30 pm to remind them of their obligation to show up, albeit virtually.
At the prompt (10 minutes before the Court was scheduled to adjourn for the day), her counsel, represented by a Ms. Forrest, called into the courtroom (4:49 pm) and requested that the matter be adjourned until February 1, due to “ongoing resolution discussions and to obtain client instructions”.
It was a blatant delay move. That tactic appears to have worked for her so far, up until today. This time, the Crown counsel would have nothing to do with it.
The charges, dating from 2017 and 2018, stem from her previous employment with the LiUNA Local 3000 and include two counts of fraud over $5,000 and ten under that amount. For anyone following this matter, it would appear there is an attempt by the Defence to put off dealing with the serious charges.
Crown Counsel, Kimberly Rogers was angry and offended that the stall tactic followed multiple extensions and requests by the defence to have the case deferred to a later date for the purpose of accommodating yet another fruitless Resolution meeting.
Ms. Rogers pointed out that on the previous court date (December 21) she had highlighted six previous such opportunities from which there was no outcome. She outlined the history of court proceedings in this matter and how the case had not moved forward.
Crown counsel recounted for the court how, at the most recent resolution meeting (January 13), the counsel for the accused was advised that failure to move towards a resolution would mean that the matter would be moved to trial. At that time, the defence was also advised to arrange for dates with the trial co-ordinator, or it would be done for him.
It would appear that the Court’s patience has run its course. Justice D. D’Ignazio repeated that the Court had to call the counsel for the accused, stating, “it is extremely disrespectful to the Court and to the Crown”. He also emphasized the fact that the “accused (Nancy Guzzo) has never appeared in court. EVER!”
Justice D’Ignazio was visibly upset at the lack of co-operation by Ms. Guzzo and her legal team, repeating the words: “extremely disrespectful to the Court and to Crown Counsel […] counsel. It is …quite frankly, really upsetting”.
Having given her close to one year to resolve her problems, the Crown is now proceeding by indictment and the matter moves to case management on January 28, 2022.
Photo credit: HCDSB.org