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Jail time suggested for former Surrey city planner

Akonyu Akolo - File Photo / The Leader
Akonyu Akolo
— image credit: File Photo / The Leader

A former City of Surrey planner is facing jail time for defrauding the city.

At a sentencing hearing Thursday, both Crown and defence lawyers requested jail time for Akonyu Akolo ranging from three to 15 months for breach of trust by a public officer.

Akolo pleaded guilty to the charge in September.

Crown prosecutor Kevin Marks asked the court to sentence Akolo to 15 months of incarceration.

Akolo's defence lawyer Jennifer Currie asked for three to four months of jail time.

While a sentence of nine to 12 months of community service is an option, she said, the defendant needs to work and provide for his family and the longer sentence would keep Akolo from doing so.

Akolo, who was fired in 2010, was criminally charged in 2011 after a lengthy police investigation.

He originally faced five charges – bribing an agent, corrupt municipal official, breach of trust by a public officer, giving false account to deceive principal, and fraudulent concealment.

Akolo was in charge of area planning and development for South Surrey. He had worked for the city for 17 years.

A developer he approached reported him to the city and to the police on April 2010.

The court heard Akolo offered to take $30,000 for what he called "professional consulting services" from the developer, in exchange for not cashing cheques worth $65,000 of fees to the city.

Currie said Akolo claimed he had forgotten about the cheques and didn't deposit them after the development was approved because he feared for his job if his mistake was noticed.

During their investigation, police found no criminal wrongdoing on the part of the developer or any other Surrey staffers.

Akolo initially denied all the allegations.

The City of Surrey also has a civil lawsuit against Akolo over missing funds.

In a suit filed in April 2010, the city claimed unnamed developers acted in conspiracy with Akolo to bilk the city out of various development fees. The city also accused Akolo of using the funds he took to purchase his home in North Delta. Those allegations have yet to be proven in court.

The sentencing will continue on Dec. 6.

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