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Niagara Falls
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
No charges laid after developer gave NOTL councillor $10,000 in cash
Police say no charges will be laid after prominent NOTL developer Benny Marotta gave Coun. Gary Burroughs an envelope containing $10,000 in cash.

Police say they found no criminal wrongdoing and no charges will be laid after prominent NOTL developer Benny Marotta gave Coun. Gary Burroughs an envelope containing $10,000 in cash.

Niagara Regional Police have concluded their investigation into the cash exchange, an official told The Lake Report on Wednesday.

Detectives with the Niagara Falls criminal investigations branch have “concluded their investigation and do not have reasonable grounds to lay charges under the Criminal Code,” police spokesperson Stephanie Sabourin said in an email.

Responding to earlier queries by The Lake Report, Sabourin also said no media release would be issued about the investigation “as no criminal charges have been laid.”

The matter is being passed back to Niagara-on-the-Lake town staff as well as the town’s integrity commissioner, Ted McDermott, of ADR Chambers Inc., for further review, she said.

In early March, Marotta handed Burroughs an envelope containing $10,000 cash during a meeting at his Two Sisters Winery.

In interviews at the time, Burroughs and Marotta independently confirmed the exchange happened, but both said it was not politically motivated.

The two men said no favours were requested and Marotta told The Lake Report that it was meant as a campaign gift to Burroughs.

Burroughs, a former lord mayor of NOTL who has been in politics for 25 years, said he was handed an envelope and just told to “read it later.”

He said Marotta only told him afterward that it was intended as a campaign contribution. He said the developer also later emailed him to reiterate that the money was for his election campaign.

“But my campaign’s been closed for a long time,” Burroughs said at the time.

“And in fact, this year, my campaign I have to pay money back to the town because I have excess left over. So it can’t be about (the) campaign.”

Any municipal council candidate could accept up to $1,200 from a single party as a donation during last fall’s campaign period. But under Ontario law, cash donations cannot exceed $25.

Burroughs, who said he didn’t open the envelope until he got home from the meeting, said there was no mention of it being a campaign donation until he tried to return it to Marotta the next day.

The developer told him to give whatever he couldn’t use for his campaign to the church Burroughs attends.

However, Burroughs brought the cash to the town’s chief administrator, Marnie Cluckie, and the town called Marotta to come and collect his cash.

Subsequently, in a special meeting, council voted to send the information to the integrity commissioner and the OPP for investigation.

The OPP, in turn, told the town that the investigation should be handled by Niagara police.

The integrity commissioner has not yet released any detailed statement about his own investigation of the incident.

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