Despite his spirited protestations of innocence and stout denials that he would ever cut a deal, there is increased speculation that Mike Duffy is again weighing the odds of exoneration versus incarceration.
And after last week’s damning testimony, who can blame him?
A conviction for Duffy, pushing 70 and with serious health problems, might mean that he could die in the slammer. (The bribery charge alone carries a 14-year max, and the ol’ Duff shouldn’t expect leniency because of his age. Justice Charles Vaillancourt last January sent an 80-year-old perv named James McTurk to the Big House for two years for kiddy diddling.)
Things are not coming up aces for Duffy. Indeed, even if he beats jail time by copping a plea, he still faces financial disaster.
The Senate was his lone source of income and that dried up when he got suspended two years ago. In order to survive, Duffy had to mortgage his Kanata home to the tune of $550,000, but a big chunk of that dough goes to defence legalist Donald Bayne, even with the old pro reportedly offering his services at a compassionate discount.
If the trial stretches into July, as suggested by Vaillancourt, Duffy’s legal tab could be even more ruinous. (Convicted or no, the chances of Duffy ever working again in journalism are slim to zero. Even his old pal, Steve Madely, the CFRA radio loudmouth, rejected Duffy when he came begging for a gig last year.)
But if a longer trial costs Duffy more, it could also play to his advantage, since his chances of copping a plea deal increase with every passing day that Bayne can chip away at the Crown’s case. Plus, an extended trial also ratchets up the media and political pressure.
By copping a guilty plea in exchange for leniency, Duffy gets to stay out of jail, the prosecution gets its conviction, and the Tories are off the hook.
Or so the theory goes.
Tragically, the Ol’ Duff, had he not been suspended, would have qualified for his Senate pension in January, and could have preceded any plea bargain with a quickie retirement a la Raymond Lavigne and Mac Harb.
The grisly duo managed to preserve their goodies and avoid expulsion for having been, as the rules of the Senate have it, “attainted of Treason or convicted of Felony or of any infamous Crime.”
Alas, the clock has stopped on Duffy’s pensionable time, further raising the stakes of cutting a deal.
What to do, what to do?