Gavel (Courtesy photo)

Former Edmonton MLA and son sentenced to house arrest in immigration fraud case

EDMONTON — A former Alberta Progressive Conservative legislature member and his son have been sentenced to house arrest for immigration fraud.

Carlito and Charles Benito pleaded guilty earlier this month to charges under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act of employing unauthorized foreign nationals.

The immigration consultants employed eight illegal foreign nationals in Edmonton and Calgary and paid them less than $10 an hour between 2016 and 2018. During this time, the two men operated three immigration consulting firms.

Court heard the workers were told to say they were volunteers and some signed forms stating they were volunteering for no pay.

The employees were also referred to by code names.

No victim impact statements were provided at a sentencing hearing Friday.

Justice Avril Ingles said Carlito Benito wilfully and knowingly committed immigration fraud while his son co-operated.

The hearing was told Carlito Benito applied to Immigration Canada for study permits for the employees using forged acceptance letters from post-secondary institutions and false bank statements.

She said both father and son abused their power and exploited the trust of their clients, the federal government and Canadian citizens.

But the judge said neither of the two men have previous criminal records and have shown remorse.

She sentenced 68-year-old Carlito Benito to two years of house arrest. He must also complete 100 hours of community service and pay a $75,000 fine.

Born in the Philippines, Benito was the Progressive Conservative MLA for Edmonton-Mill Woods from 2008 to 2012.

He told the court the hours of community service will have a significant and positive impact.

Charles Benito was sentenced to nine months of house arrest and 100 hours of community service.

The 28-year-old, who is completing a plumbing program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, addressed the court in overalls and work boots.

“This will never happen again,” he said.

In addition to their sentences, the judge said both men cannot be involved in any kind of immigration service.

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