B.C.'s former sergeant-at-arms lied multiple times during investigation: report
Published Tuesday, October 8, 2019 6:00PM PDT Last Updated Wednesday, October 9, 2019 10:10AM PDT
A new report obtained exclusively by CTV News into the alleged spending scandal at the B.C. legislature has concluded that former sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz, who resigned last week, engaged in "discreditable conduct" and lied multiple times during an investigation into the accusations.
The report, conducted by former Vancouver police deputy chief Doug LePard, found that Lenz was untruthful in both oral and written submissions related to the investigation by retired chief justice Beverley McLachlin, who was commissioned by the province to probe allegations of misspending by Lenz and legislature clerk Craig James.
"I find that SAA Lenz's false oral and written statements to Justice McLachlin constitute misconduct that is at the most serious end of the range of misconduct under the Police Act," LePard wrote.
McLachlin's report was released in May and cleared Lenz of wrongdoing, finding that he didn't violate his terms of employment.
It came months after Lenz and James were suspended from their high profile roles in November 2018, following an investigation by the Office of the Speaker. It alleged Lenz and James misspent thousands of taxpayer dollars on lavish trips, clothing and expenses unrelated to their work at the legislature.
But this new report says Lenz lied to McLachlin on several occasions.
"For Justice McLachlin (or any investigator) to be able to carry out her work effectively, she needed to be able to rely upon those she interviewed to be truthful," the report stated. "SAA Lenz's untruthful oral statements and written submissions to Justice McLachlin regarding the 2013 liquor incident – including with respect to his conversations with Speaker Plecas and Mr. Mullen in 2018 – constitute an egregious breach of public trust."
LePard's report was commissioned by Speaker Darryl Plecas, after his chief of staff Alan Mullen filed a complaint against Lenz under the Police Act. It was not a criminal investigation, but rather a disciplinary probe. A separate RCMP investigation into the allegations continues.
The LePard report focusses heavily on the alleged misappropriation of nearly $10,000 worth of liquor from the legislature grounds. Former clerk Craig James was accused of taking a truckload of booze, including wine and hard liquor, from the legislature in April 2013. It was apparently left over from a conference and paid for by taxpayers.
The report suggests Lenz was involved in loading James' truck with the booze.
One witness, whose name was redacted, told LePard he had clear memories of being directed by SAA Lenz to assist in loading James' truck "full" on April 22, 2013 with many boxes of unopened liquor, including wine and hard liquor.
The witness went on to tell the investigator that "he told SAA Lenz it was 'stupid and wrong' but SAA Lenz just smiled."
Lenz was interviewed as part of the investigation and told LePard he didn't know where the liquor was going, but assumed it was being taken for a refund.
But LePard rejected that theory based on a number of interviews with other witnesses, who said Lenz described the liquor incident as a "theft" to several people on multiple occasions and failed to investigate it.
"There is clear and cogent evidence that SAA Lenz did not take any investigative action because he already knew Mr. James was not returning the liquor," the report states.
In a statement issued late Tuesday afternoon, Lenz disputed the report's findings.
"I do not accept the conclusion reached by Mr. LePard that I did not give truthful testimony about my decision not to commence a formal investigation in to the removal of alcohol from the Legislative Precinct by Mr. James in 2013. I dispute that finding in the strongest possible terms," wrote Lenz, who has denied any wrongdoing related to the spending scandal.
"I have always told the truth in every matter related to my employment as Sergeant at Arms and I did so in the testimony that I gave to Mr. LePard’s investigation."
CTV News has learned that Lenz was given a copy of the report just days before he resigned.
In a statement issued on the day of his resignation, Oct. 2, Lenz wrote, "I have served my office with loyalty and integrity.
"I have concluded that the damage that has been done to my reputation will never be fully repaired."