Michael Sona, convicted of 2011 robocalls, released from jail
Michael Sona, who was sentenced to nine months in jail in the robocalls scandal, is now on parole. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Dave Chidley)
Published Wednesday, October 5, 2016 12:50PM EDT
OTTAWA -- Michael Sona, the only person convicted in the 2011 robocalls scandal, is out of jail.
"Some good news to share: the ordeal that I've had to go through for the past several years is finally over for me," Sona wrote in a defiant post on Facebook Tuesday.
The 26-year-old former Conservative staffer was granted parole on Sept. 6, although he had already been out since July on a temporary permit with strict conditions. He hadn't sought parole because he says he didn't want to tell the board he'd committed a crime.
"I would have been eligible for parole in August, but I waived it because I was told it was important to say that I had committed the offence, even though I hadn't. As I've said all along, no offer was going to make me compromise on the truth."
Sona was convicted in August, 2014, of preventing or trying to prevent voters from casting ballots in Guelph, Ont., during the 2011 federal election. He was later sentenced to nine months in jail, although both he and the Crown appealed that sentence. In June, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the original sentence.
Sona says the temporary absence permit brought with it a parole hearing in September.
"The parole board asked me to explain to them why I had committed the offence. I told them that, as I have said all along, I hadn't," Sona wrote.
He singled out the Crown's star witness, Andrew Prescott, whose testimony the judge found questionable. Prescott testified he'd seen Sona with a burner cell phone, the type of phone used to place misleading phone calls meant to direct voters away from their polling stations. Sona said he told the board he should have been watching his colleague on the Conservative candidate's campaign as closely as he watched the other political parties.
"The board said that was a very responsible and mature way of looking at things, and approved me to be back at work and out of there permanently," Sona wrote.
It's been four and a half years since Sona was thrust into the political spotlight when his name was leaked to the media in connection with the robocalls scandal. Sona has maintained his innocence throughout.
He says he now knows what it means to have real support.
"There are people who have stuck with me through the entire ordeal - regardless of the outcomes and headlines - and are still with me today," Sona wrote, noting his boss and landlord have been accommodating and his family has "done everything they can to help every single day."
"I am so thankful for those who have done that.... The reason I was able to get through this was because of people like that, and I will remember all of these kindnesses for the rest of my life."
Sona is now employed as a machinist in Ottawa.
His sentence is up in January, 2017.
The Conservatives lost the seat in Guelph in 2011, to incumbent Frank Valeriote, who didn't run again in 2015.