|Ottawa CIC office at 200 Catherine Street. (GOOGLE STREET VIEW)
OTTAWA - A corrupt former Citizenship and Immigration Canada manager was convicted Friday of taking cash and benefits in exchange for fast-tracking immigration files for a conspirator's clients.
Judge Catherine Aitken said the evidence against Diane Serre, 41, was "absolutely overwhelming," noting even her lawyer had "virtually nothing" to say in closing arguments after a six-week trial.
"I am persuaded beyond a reasonable doubt that Diane Serre acted with the intention to use her public office for a purpose other than the public good, namely for a purpose that was dishonest, partial and corrupt," Aitken wrote.
Serre used her position to make money by providing information, advice and preferential treatment to Issam Dakik's clients "in a way that she hoped would never be discovered by anyone else within CIC.
"She took precautions to keep her activity secret, however, these precautions were not enough."
Serre was convicted of 15 counts of fraud and 12 counts of breach of trust for 10 immigration files processed through the Ottawa CIC office in 2003 and 2004. She was acquitted of one count of bribery.
Dakik pleaded guilty to his role in 2006.
Serre befriended Dakik through his wife, her esthetician Vivian Badaan-Dakik.
They formed a "joint enterprise" with Dakik letting it be known in the Lebanese community that he could "make things happen" on immigration files — for a price.
How much Serre received isn't clear.
Dakik charged each client $300 to start, telling them he gave $200 to "the lawyer" (Serre). He received more — $10,000 in one case — at the end. He also gave Serre gifts and his wife gave her free services.
"It is inconceivable that Ms. Serre would have jeopardized her job and her liberty by engaging in illegal activities in which she was involved unless it was worth her while financially to do so," Aitken wrote.
Contacted by Dakik, Serre looked at the client's file, determined what needed to be done to move it along, then used her power to get results that were quicker or beyond what the client was entitled to.
The evidence at trial included hundreds of wiretapped phone calls between the pair, marked cash in Serre's home that a client gave to Dakik as part of the RCMP sting and a document with Serre's fingerprints on it seized from Dakik's home.
A date for sentencing will be set July 27.