The latest report in the B.C. legislature spending scandal accuses the building’s former security chief of “neglect of duty” and “discreditable conduct” in the removal of booze from the building.
The report says Gary Lenz, who resigned as sergeant-at-arms last week, originally told officials the 2013 removal of wine and liquor from the building amounted to “theft” but that he later changed his story in evidence given to the former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.
The report by the former Metro Vancouver Transit Police chief, Doug LePard, says Lenz “failed to tell the truth” to Beverley McLachlin, the former chief justice brought in to investigate the scandal.
McLachlin cleared Lenz of wrongdoing last May, but LePard found otherwise.
“I have come to a different conclusion than Justice McLachlin,” LePard wrote in the report delivered Tuesday to the all-party committee that manages the legislature.
“Our different conclusions are a product of different mandates and a different evidentiary record.”
Lenz and Craig James, the now-retired clerk of the legislature, were marched out of the building under police escort last year and remain under investigation.
Speaker Darryl Plecas later released a report outlining inappropriate spending on designer clothes, gifts, globe-trotting travel and a $13,000 wood splitter and trailer that was delivered to James’s house. The report also said James arranged a dubious $257,988 “retirement benefit” for himself in 2012.
McLachlin found James committed misconduct and he resigned in May.
But after McLachlin cleared Lenz, Plecas brought in LePard to investigate further.
A copy of LePard’s report was released Tuesday.
The report focuses on the removal of a truckload of wine and liquor from the building in 2013.
“Witness 7 had clear memories of being directed by Lenz to assist in loading Mr. James’s truck ‘full’ on April 22, 2013, with many boxes of unopened liquor, including wine and hard liquor,” says the report, which redacts the names of most witnesses.
“He recalled a previous incident of this occurring. He said he told Lenz it was ‘stupid and wrong,’ but SAA [sergeant-at- arms] Lenz just smiled.”
The report says Lenz later told Plecas, Plecas’s assistant Alan Mullen, and other legislature officials “that Mr. James committed a theft” in the incident and should have been forced to retire.
But Lenz told McLachlin that he assumed James had simply returned the booze to a liquor store for a refund after it was left over from a conference.
LePard writes: “In my view, the evidence is clear that SAA Lenz was not telling the truth when he said orally and in writing to Justice McLachlin that he assumed the liquor was being returned for a refund and ‘is not aware of any theft of alcohol.’
“SAA Lenz was not telling the truth when he denied to Justice McLachlin that he had told the Speaker and Mr. Mullen in 2018 that the 2013 liquor incident was a theft.
“SAA Lenz was not telling the truth when he denied that on multiple occasions he had encouraged Speaker Plecas and Mr. Mullen to use the liquor incident as leverage to get rid of Mr. James.”
LePard concluded the evidence “demonstrates that SAA Lenz did not uphold his oath as a special provincial constable and appears to substantiate that SAA Lenz committed neglect of duty for the failure in his sworn duty as an SPC to adequately investigate the misappropriation of liquor by Mr. James.”
LePard also concluded that Lenz’s “untruthful oral and written statements” to McLachlin amounted to “serious misconduct” and “discreditable conduct.”
Lenz, who could not be reached for comment, was shown a copy of the LePard report last month. He resigned last week, insisting he had “served my office with loyalty and integrity.”
James told investigators that he took the truckload of booze to Penticton and sold it to Bill Barisoff, a former Liberal-appointed Speaker, for $370, though Plecas said he suspected the liquor was more valuable than that.
A police investigation of Lenz and James is still continuing under the supervision of two independent special prosecutors.