Joe Ramono leaves Ontario Superior Court in Peterborough, Ont. Sept. 29. He will spend five months in jail then face two years of probation.
Joe Ramono has been jailed for issuing a fake safety certificate for a vehicle involved in a fatal crash.
He will serve five months in prison, followed by two years of probation and 48 hours of community service.
He cannot work as a vehicle technician, nor inspect vehicles during his probation. However, once that period is up, he is free to work as a mechanic provided that he can obtain a licence.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Stephen Bale announced the sentencing Oct. 27 in Peterborough, Ont.
In delivering his nearly 30-minute long reasons for the sentence, the judge said the sentence must denounce Ramono’s actions, deter others from thinking of doing the same and protect the public.
“The sentence must serve to deter both this offender and likeminded individuals from committing the same or similar crimes,” Bale said.
Ramono had his head lowered throughout the proceedings, except for when the judge asked him to stand in order to speak directly to him when delivering the verdict. He did not speak, other than to acknowledge that he understood Bale’s decision.
“The sentence must serve to deter both this offender and likeminded individuals from committing the same or similar crimes.”
— Ontario Superior Court Justice Stephen Bale
Defence lawyer Glenn Orr did speak on his client’s behalf, noting as he did before that his client is remorseful and asked that the judge allow Ramono to continue working as a technician.
“It’s one thing to lose part of his privileges – to lose them all is sort of a death penalty to his career [and] to his life,” Orr said before the judge gave his reasons.
Bale agreed. “He needs to work and motor vehicle mechanics is the vocation,” he explained in his reasons, though he did acknowledge that it would be “unlikely” for Ramono to be licenced to conduct inspections “in the near future.”
Assistant crown attorney Lisa Wannamaker sought six to nine months in jail, after which time he would receive three years of probation. His terms would include not to act as a technician or any other post in the automotive trade, nor seek a license to run an automotive business. She also asked that Ramono be forced to complete a large number of hours of community service.
Bale maintained that Ramono was in a position of trust, one that he took advantage of in order to illegally profit.
“In doing so, he knowingly put the public at risk,” he added.
Ramono abused his position of trust by saying a Dodge pickup truck was safe when it was in fact not. It was involved in a deadly crash in 2012. The vehicle never should have been on the road in the first place, the Crown said. Abigail MacNaughton, 27, of Peterborough died that day.
Ramono was found not guilty, however, of being criminally negligent.
The defence was seeking a suspended sentence. That means a conviction is registered – unlike a conditional discharge – and the offender is given conditions within a probation order.
However, Bale did not believe the defence’s option fit the crime that was committed. He also did not go as far as the Crown’s recommendation as he accepted items, such as employment, as mitigating factors.
“I accept that he is doing his best to support his wife and himself without the illegitimate income to which he had been accustomed,” he said, adding that the effect of the five-year long litigation against Ramono was also a consideration.
In late September, Orr painted a bleak picture of Ramono. He said his client had “fallen on evil times” and was suffering as a result of what happened. He sought leniency for Ramono, whose life has been “shattered.” He can’t work in his industry as a result of his conviction, Orr noted.
Ramono was handcuffed in the courtroom and led away by Peterborough police following Bale’s verdict.
‘Being held accountable’
For Sharri MacNaughton, whose daughter died in the crash, it was a victory.
“I’m quite pleased after all this time, after five years, I’m glad to turn the page. But I’m really happy for the outcome. I really am because they need to be accountable. My daughter died,” she said following the sentencing.
“Justice has been served. My daughter did not die in vain. She caught a bad guy.”
MacNaughton was also happy for the service and repair industry as it meant an unscrupulous member was out of the industry. But she knew Ramono was a “bad apple” in an industry where there are many good people.
“I know there’s a lot of mechanics out there who take pride in their work,” she said. “I’m glad this man is being held accountable.