Four paralegals and a former clerk at Toronto court are facing corruption charges for allegedly being involved in a scheme erasing traffic tickets. The licensed paralegals are Benito Zappia, Benito Bennardo, Payam Javadi, and Philip Alexiu, while the disgraced court clerk is named Frank Rizzello.
A number of traffic tickets were withdrawn at a courthouse on 2700 Eglinton Ave. The removal of these conviction records has resulted in a huge loss of revenue running up to thousands of dollars. It was confirmed by multiple sources, including court documents. These offenses took place between the months of March and June 2018.
Rizello, the court clerk, had been previously released from his duties on charges of fraud and altering justice of peace. He is also charged on account of possessing knowledge about using forged documents in dockets and disposition databases and not doing anything about it.
Additionally, he is also charged with conspiring with a number of people to alter and temper with registered convictions. Attempting to obstruct justice is also among the many charges.
He was arrested in February 2019 after the allegations were levied on him and city staff investigation was conducted. He was arrested on charges of defrauding the Toronto court of more than $5,000 as well as a breach of trust. He had apparently attempted to alter disposition court documents.
Rizello was released on bail but under very strict conditions. He is prevented from having any type of contact, whether direct or indirect, with paralegals practicing at any provincial courthouse.
What are the consequences of erasing traffic tickets?
Due to the disappearance of the traffic ticket in courts, the city of Toronto witnessed a loss of $30,000 in revenue, which is a significant amount.
However, the lawmakers made sure that remediation action was in place, and the defendants were duly notified. Additionally, the affected court orders were also recorded as accurately as possible as part of the remediation action.
But the sad fact is that no one can say for certain whether or not the erring parties paid their fines for the tickets. This was confirmed by Brad Ross, who is the spokesman for the city of Toronto.
What does this mean for these four paralegals?
The four erring paralegals are currently under investigation by the Law Society of Ontario. It is an independent body that regulates paralegals and lawyers. A separate investigation by the Toronto police is also in progress.