Denis Pilon, Crown prosecutor in 2014-15 trial over alleged bid rigging by TPG Technology and others. (Jim Bagnall/Ottawa Citizen) Jim Bagnall / Ottawa Citizen
The dominoes keep falling in the long-running legal saga involving alleged bid rigging by computer services firms at multiple federal government departments.
Crown prosecutor Denis Pilon on Tuesday stayed proceedings against the last five defendants, Barry Dowdall, David Gelineau, Perry Henningsen, Donna Cona Inc. and Brainhunter. The defendants had elected to be tried by a judge, unlike 10 of their colleagues who opted for a jury trial.
On April 27 the jury found nine defendants not guilty on all 60 charges they faced. These included: Don Powell, Marina Durward, Sue Laycock, Phil McDonald, Ron Walker, Tom Townsend, TPG Technology, Devon Group and Spearhead Management. The 10th defendant in the jury trial, David Watts, was found not guilty in a directed verdict.
The Crown on Monday said it would not appeal the jury’s decision; neither will it contest Watts’s directed verdict.
The 15 defendants
in the jury and judge-only proceedings had been charged along with six others in 2009 with rigging and conspiring to rig bids at Canada Border Services Agency, Department of Transport and at Public Works and Government Services Canada. This was in the wake of a multi-year investigation by the Competition Bureau.
Charges against a handful of defendants were dropped or dismissed in the wake of a preliminary inquiry. Two pleaded guilty to bid rigging after considerable pressure by the Crown to cut a deal or risk losing government contracts.
The Crown had levied more than 150 charges in total. All but the two plea bargains have now been tossed out.
The jury trial revealed the Crown’s case to be paper thin, based on a Competition Bureau investigation that relied almost exclusively on the testimony of competitors of the accused. Prosecutors also failed to produce evidence that the defendants collaborated improperly in preparing their bids. Indeed, testimony by the Crown’s own witnesses confirmed that such teaming arrangements had been encouraged by federal procurement officials.