It wasn't a campaign appearance by mayoral hopeful and funeral home director Mike Vogiatzakis, but it had all the trappings of one.
While Vogiatzakis held an outdoor news conference at the Thunderbird Restaurant on Friday to introduce an option from New Jersey to fix Winnipeg's pothole problem, he did so surrounded by a Mike For Mayor banner.
After he spoke at a podium with a microphone and sound system, he told assembled media he did not pay for any of the decorations or equipment on hand, nor did he pay for Pelletpatch sales director Saverio Marra to come to Winnipeg.
"The campaign legislation says you can't spend any money, so I haven't spent any money. This guy came here on his own time because he believes in his product," Vogiatzakis said.
"The company that showed up to do the speaker stuff and the sign, they came on (Friday) morning and boom -- here it is. People want change and people are willing to do things to get change.
"I didn't pay for anything. Not even gifted to me... just brought here."
Vogiatzakis has a checkered past. He was convicted twice -- in 2004 and 2007 -- of filing a false statement to Manitoba Public Insurance because he collected benefits while working. He had judgments registered against him in court for non-payment of wages while operating a DJ business before he became a funeral director. "Everyone makes mistakes, that is why pencils have erasers," Vogiatzakis said.
He pointed out he was never convicted of fraud.
"With Manitoba Public Insurance, or whatever the case may be, there's two sides to every story," he said, admitting to paying a $3,500 fine and court costs.
"I filed a false statement under the Manitoba Public Insurance Act. And that wasn't the case. If you want to know the case behind that, I was to go to court for a motorcycle accident that I was involved in. With that motorcycle accident, I was injured, I have nerve damage in my left foot, I'll always have that.
"Of course, like anything, there's a way out for people. When we went to court, I was going to go to court on fraud charges, that was the original charge. But they knew I wasn't fraudulent, so MPI took me to another court room and said, 'Hey listen, we'll make you a deal. Why don't you sign that you made a false statement under the Highway Traffic Act?' Boom, there you go."
-- with files from Aldo Santin