Montreal Mayor Applebaum faces 14 charges including fraud, conspiracy
Published Monday, June 17, 2013 6:59AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 17, 2013 10:00PM EDT
Montreal's Mayor Michael Applebaum, who promised to restore public confidence amid Quebec’s widespread corruption scandal, has been arrested and charged with fraud, conspiracy, breach of trust, and corruption in municipal affairs.
Applebaum was arrested at his home Monday morning by the province’s anti-corruption unit and faces 14 charges. The charges, investigators said, are related to two real estate projects that took place between 2006 and 2011, before Applebaum became mayor.
"These were bribes that influenced a decision, approvals or permit distribution," said Unite permanente anticorruption commissioner Robert Lafreniere at a press conference Monday.
Police said the transactions being investigated were worth "several hundreds of thousands of dollars."
Applebaum spent nearly 10 hours at the provincial police headquarters on Monday.
He later did not provide a comment to reporters as he left the station and entered a taxi.
Two other Montreal-area public figures were also arrested Monday.
Saulie Zajdel, who worked in a ministerial office for the federal Conservatives on ethnic outreach, was charged with breach of trust, fraud and corruption.
Jean Yves Bisson, a former director of permits who worked in Applebaum's west end borough.
"The message is clear: all actions which compromise the integrity of the state are unacceptable," Lafreniere said, appearing alongside UPAC squad captain Andre Boulanger.
They said 20 officers were part of the investigation, and it's possible that more arrests will take place in the coming days.
"We can no longer tolerate these reprehensible acts committed towards the management of our public institutions," Lafreniere said. "No one is above the law -- and you can't hide from the law."
Seven months ago, campaigning on a promise to clean up city hall, Applebaum was elected interim mayor of Montreal after former mayor Gerald Tremblay resigned when a witness at a corruption inquiry said he turned a blind eye to illegal financing in his now-defunct political party.
Montreal city hall was raided by UPAC investigators last February, in a sweep that also targeted municipal offices in various boroughs of the city -- including the one Applebaum represented as a councillor for many years.
Gilles Vaillancourt, the former longtime mayor of nearby Laval, was also arrested in a sweep last month and charged with fraud and gangsterism.
Applebaum, who is Montreal's first Anglophone mayor in 100 years, has already said he will not run in the upcoming municipal election set for November.
Many of Applebaum's former allies, along with Quebec Premier Pauline Marois, called for his immediate resignation on Monday.
"Given the circumstances, it would be preferable for him to withdraw from his current role," Marois told a news conference.
With files from The Canadian Press