Once written off as a “dead fish”, ex-con Mario Gentile is poised to make a back-door return to civic politics.
And the white knight who’s giving the former convict a helping hand is his former rival, Coun. Fank Di Giorgio, who represents York South-Weston (Ward 12).
“Absolutely I think he’s paid his debt, in the context of some other people that have got themselves into a hell of a lot more trouble,” Di Giorgio said. “I point to people like ... Conrad Black. They basically have done things that are much more atrocious than whatever Mr. Gentile did.
“And I’m not sure exactly what he did.”
Gentile was convicted of breach of trust and accepting secret commissions in 1994 for taking money and benefits from developer Lou Charles while a Metro Toronto councillor.
He was also found guilty of tax evasion and pleaded guilty to breach of trust in a separate incident involving a U.S. firm that wanted to sell garbage trucks to North York.
Di Giorgio said he is working out a contract with Gentile to do part-time constituency work for him, and spoke glowingly of the man he defeated soundly in the 2000 civic election.
“Mario and I worked together in North York in the late ’80s, early ’90s. We did a lot of good things,” Di Giorgio said.
“The reality is that a lot of things that were introduced in North York were spearheaded by Mario. He was primarily responsible for the kind of snow clearing that we introduced in North York.
“Unfortunately he got himself into trouble, but I anticipate that he could help me do a lot of positive things.”
Gentile could not be reached for comment but when he earned day parole in 1995, he visited Metro council and told the Sun: “You should have seen some of those faces ... they thought I was a dead fish. I had the guts to show up and make sure people don’t forget I’m around — as a taxpayer.”