Disgraced lawyer hears sentence today

Crown attorney Jeffrey Manishen is calling for unspecified jail time after portraying Shoniker as a braggart, crook and liar who broke the law and brought the justice system into disrepute. In secretly recorded conversations, the former Crown boasted to an undercover officer he was "untouchable."

The Toronto Star
September 6, 2006

Disgraced lawyer hears sentence today
Shoniker pleaded guilty to money laundering. Crown seeks jail; defence blames alcohol.
Betsy Powell

Did alcohol, pills and sleep deprivation turn Peter Shoniker into a money launderer and, if so, will Ontario Associate Chief Justice Douglas Cunningham take that into account when he sentences the lawyer today?

Last month, with many high-profile friends rallied behind him, Shoniker pleaded guilty to money laundering and stealing cash from an undercover RCMP officer.

Money laundering is a criminal code offence that means taking money derived from an illegal act and making it appear legitimate. The maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment.

In this case, the undercover agent told Shoniker the $750,000 - which ended up in a police-controlled bank in New York City - had been skimmed from a union pension fund.

There is often a joint submission on sentencing when a guilty plea is entered. Not this time. Crown attorney Jeffrey Manishen is calling for unspecified jail time after portraying Shoniker as a braggart, crook and liar who broke the law and brought the justice system into disrepute.

In secretly recorded conversations, the former Crown boasted to an undercover officer he was "untouchable."

Arguing for a conditional sentence, or house arrest, defence lawyer Edward Greenspan called witnesses who blamed alcoholism, prescription drug addiction and sleep deprivation - rather than greed - for his out-of-character behaviour.

Dr. Paul Fedoroff, Shoniker's psychiatrist and friend, testified prescription drugs, alcohol and chronic insomnia had "impaired his ability to think clearly."

One academic calls this a "devil made me do it" defence.

During a speech on the interaction between "criminal conduct" and "legitimate business" this week at Cambridge University, Toronto author Margaret Beare compared Shoniker's plight to that of Hollywood star Mel Gibson who made anti-Semitic and sexist remarks to police in California after they pulled him over for suspicion of drunken driving earlier this summer.

Gibson apologized for "any behaviour unbecoming of me in my inebriated state," and noted he has battled alcoholism.

Referring to the Shoniker case, Beare wrote in her prepared remarks "While it is commendable that friends support friends, his offences appear minimized when the former police chief Julian Fantino, (Maj.-Gen.) Lewis Mackenzie and other high profile supporters rallied to his defence.

Using the less-than-successful Mel Gibson defence, it now looks like alcohol, sleep deprivation and anti-depression pills turned Mr. Shoniker into a money launderer and thief."

Beare is a former director of the Nathanson Centre for the Study of Organized Crime and Corruption at York University.

Gibson has yet to have his day in court, but it's not unusual for people accused and convicted of crimes to use their alcohol or drug abuse both as a defence and as a mitigating factor upon sentencing, York University law professor Alan Young said yesterday.

When considered during sentencing, a "general preponderance of cases would suggest you get a slight discount for crimes … based on the proposition that the crime was out of character, that there really was external pressure that compelled you to commit the crime and it isn't your true nature."

Greenspan entered into evidence character letters from friends and family who said Shoniker has sought treatment for alcoholism.

Not commenting specifically on Shoniker's case, Dr. Sean Rourke, a neuropsychologist at St. Michael's Hospital, said while alcohol impairs judgment and "decision making within that time could be questionable," those are "finite periods, you know, alcohol blackouts."


Brought to you by WikidFranchise.org

Risks: Money laundering, Theft, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, RCMP, Alcoholism, Canada, 20060906 Disgraced lawyer

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License