Wednesday, November 21, 2012


This story is dragging on and on....

Actor Adam Beach lends support at convicted immigration officer’s sentencing hearing


Diane Serré was convicted in June of fraud and breach of trust for her role in illegally fast-tracking immigration applications.

Photograph by: Mike Carroccetto, Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — An immigration manager convicted of fraud enlisted star power to help try to convince a judge she deserves house arrest, not jail, for accepting cash and gifts in exchange for fast-tracking applications.
Actor Adam Beach wrote a letter in support of Diane Serré, whose common-law husband is also the father of singer Keshia Chanté.
“Diane is one of the kindest, most sincere people I have ever met,” wrote the Golden Globe-nominated actor who appeared in the Hollywood movies Windtalkers, Flags of Our Fathers and Cowboys and Aliens as well as countless other films and television shows.
Beach, who paid for Serré’s court application to receive government funding to mount a defence, said he had known Serré for a decade. She has been a guest at his house numerous times, he said, and would often attend traditional Aboriginal Powwow celebrations with his family. The day she was arrested, Beach said he visited Serré’s house to perform a cleansing smudge ceremony in offer of spiritual support.
“Diane is a generous, kind-hearted soul who I am very grateful to have had in my life,” Beach wrote. “She is a wonderful example as a successful Aboriginal woman who is spiritually connected to her culture — not only to those who know her well, but to young Aboriginal women across Canada.”
Serré’s lawyer, Natasha Calvinho, is asking for a two-year conditional sentence to be served in the community, including 18 months of house arrest. That sentence should be followed by probation for three years, Calvinho argued, and could involve hundreds of hours of community service.
The Crown is expected to ask that Serré be sentenced to six years in a federal prison.
Serré was found guilty of more than two dozen fraud and breach of trust charges in June.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Catherine Aitken found that the 42-year-old teamed up with Dakik and his wife, who was also Serré’s esthetician, to form what the judge described as a “joint enterprise” to make money helping immigrants with their immigration files between 2003 and 2004.
Aitken said Dakik “let it be known in the Lebanese community” that he could make things happen for a price because he had someone on the inside at immigration. That person was Serré, Aitken found.
Dakik met with the clients before bringing their files to the attention of Serré, who used her influence as acting operations supervisor at Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Catherine Street office to speed up the process.
Some of the people Serré helped were in Canada illegally while others were given work permits they wouldn’t otherwise be eligible to receive. One man had outstanding criminal charges in Halifax.
Serré also fast-tracked permanent resident applications, accomplishing in weeks what immigration employees testified might otherwise typically take months or years to be completed.
Exactly how much Serré received for her help isn’t clear, although Aitken’s decision outlined at least $25,900 in payments received by Dakik.

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