Ecolife Home Improvement owner David Murray pleaded guilty Sept. 15 to one count of driving a vehicle while using a handheld communication device, while several other charges unrelated to a long-delayed $800,000 fraud case against him were withdrawn.
This instance of distracted driving took place April 11, 2022, court heard.
He was sentenced by Justice Jenny Restoule-Mallozzi to pay a $1,500 fine within a year. He has already made a donation of $500 to MADD (or Mothers Against Drunk Driving).
Murray is also under a $1,000 non-deposit 12-month peace bond “to keep the peace and be of good behaviour.” He is required not to contact a certain individual, unless he incidentally runs into the man at the school their children both attend.
Several other charges against Murray being dealt with in court Friday morning were withdrawn.
Beyond the well-publicized fraud charges against Murray, which are still before the courts, a media report said he was facing charges including criminal harassment, fear of injury, two other counts of driving while using a hand-held device and one count of operating a motor vehicle improperly.
Both Murray and his lawyer, Sault Ste. Marie's Anthony Orazietti, appeared at the Sept. 15 court hearing via Zoom.
Orazietti said the “fine is substantial for Mr. Murray,” and he believes it’s a “reasonable resolution.” The lawyer said Murray is “currently not working as a result of some other disputes.”
In handing down the penalty, Justice Restoule-Mallozzi said while some people think nothing serious can happen by looking down at your phone momentarily while driving, “when your eyes are off the wheel, something quickly could happen. A child could have darted out, an animal could have come, you could hit another vehicle. Who knows what could have happened? So you are quite fortunate that you were stopped that day.”
Murray, who is now 50 years old, is also facing 35 counts of fraud over $5,000 dating back to May 7, 2016, and running through to March 28, 2019, for taking deposits for work and never accomplishing the work promised.
The total of the alleged frauds is estimated at $800,000.
The fraud trial against Murray has been much delayed, and has been held in an on-again, off-again manner. A media report says the matter returns to court Oct. 4, when trial continuation dates could be set.
Heidi Ulrichsen is Sudbury.com’s associate content editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.