Business owner's appeal for foreign worker influences denied
EDMONTON -- A judge has denied the appeal of an Edmonton business owner convicted of immigration-related offences who said he received bad advice from his lawyer.
Bujar Rushiti, who formerly owned Pristine Granite Inc., pleaded guilty in 2018 to two counts under the Immigration and Refugee Act in June 2018.
According to an agreed statement of facts, Rushiti gave false or misleading information in order to get two prospective employees immigrant status in 2012-13.
Between 2013 and 2014, he employed several foreign workers whose wages and working conditions were "substantially different" than those set out in the employment offer.
He was sentenced to a conditional term of two years less a day and fined $40,000.
But in 2019, Rushiti filed an appeal saying he didn't understand that nature of the allegations he was pleading guilty to, saying his lawyer gave him erroneous information.
"Mr. Rushiti also argues he was unaware of the criminal consequences as he believed he would be sentenced to six months' house arrest with no further liberty restrictions following that period," wrote judge Kevin Feehan. "Additionally, he did not understand he would have a criminal record. He was also unaware of collateral consequences on travel, immigration, and adoption."
Rushiti said if he understood the consequences in advance, he would not have entered a not guilty plea.
But the judge noted that Rushiti waiting nearly a year to file the appeal was a determining factor in his decision to deny it, because his appeal period expired a month after his sentencing.
"Mr. Rushiti states that his lawyer at no point told him he had one month to appeal his conviction or sentence," wrote Feehan.
He ruled that Rushiti did not display intent to appeal within the proper time frame or adequately account for the delay, and dismissed the appeal.