New allegations against embattled London, Ont., mayor

Joe Fontana. (QMI AGENCY FILE PHOTO)

Joe Fontana. (QMI AGENCY FILE PHOTO)

Chip Martin, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:50 PM ET

LONDON, Ont. — A London, Ont., man suing Joe Fontana for $1 million says the mayor of this city found him a job with a major developer in a bid to get out of the lawsuit.

Tony Bacsa, a mechanical engineer, builder and plumber, told QMI Agency he was hired by Ali Soufan, president of York Developments, because Fontana wanted Bacsa to drop him from the lawsuit arising from a failed business venture in Romania.

This comes as the embattled Fontana is investigated by the RCMP for federal cheques used to pay for his son’s 2005 wedding reception.

For more than two months Bacsa has been working as a site supervisor on a commercial project by York in London. He remembers being unemployed and financially strapped when Fontana visited him in his north London home about Sept. 1 this year.

Bacsa blamed his financial woes on the Romanian episode.

“Joe was here in my house when he called Ali (Soufan),” Bacsa said. “He said go and see Ali tomorrow morning ... He (Ali) hired me because Joe called.”

Asked by QMI about Bacsa’s assertion he helped Bacsa land the job to get out of the lawsuit, Fontana was categorical: “No,” he said in an e-mail. But he noted he regularly helps people find work and will continue to do so.

Bacsa, 65, produced a string of e-mails from Fontana showing Fontana was anxious to be taken off the lawsuit filed in April 2010, a few months before he was elected mayor.

Bacsa is suing Fontana and two partners for money Bacsa claims he’s owed for consulting services, fees and expenses from 2008 and 2009. Bacsa kept the e-mail exchanges showing Fontana was keen to get out of the lawsuit and promised to make things right.

“You have your nerve suing me,” Fontana e-mailed Bacsa on April 29, 2010, shortly after the suit was filed. “I guess friendship doesn’t mean anything to you. I will remember that.”

On April 18, 2011, the newly elected mayor e-mailed again, saying “you must take me off the lawsuit and you need to do it now.”

On Sept. 4, 2012, shortly after Bacsa was hired by Soufan, Bacsa e-mailed Fontana saying he doubted he could earn enough money to “make the money that you and Derk (Derk Matt of Oakville, Ont.,) own (sic) me.”

Fontana replied the same day, saying York is “a very reputable firm -- in business for over 20 years and have done millions of development -- this is your first day -- you should give them a chance to set up and I believe they will meet your expectations in the future.”

For his part, Soufan said: “I have no knowledge about Mayor Fontana’s business dealings, or Tony’s business dealings, for that matter.” Soufan said Bacsa contacted him a couple of months ago.

“He said to me he was looking for work and the mayor told him he should go out and talk to the developers in town and see who is actively busy,” Soufan said.

Fontana confirmed to QMI this week his lawyer is prepared to defend the suit.

Fontana was chairperson of GPEC Global, a green energy firm trying to develop energy-from-waste plants in Romania. He and his partners, the father and son team of Derk and Derek Maat of Oakville, Ont., are named as defendants in Bacsa’s suit.

In their statement of defence, Fontana and the Maats said Bacsa was a part-time consultant and they never signed a contract with him in the highly speculative venture.

The lawsuit is an unproven allegation that must be tested in court. It’s to be spoken to in the Ontario Superior Court in Milton, Ont., Jan. 14.

chip.martin@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @ChipatLFPress


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