By Adam Luxenberg – Montreal Jewish News
Former Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum, who in 2012 crowbarred his way into the Mayor’s seat on an anti-corruption platform, after his predecessor, Gerald Tremblay, resigned in disgrace due to administrative corruption, was convicted on eight counts of corruption. The former Mayor faces a possible five years in jail.
For the most part, Applebaum was stoic, standing throughout the two hour long hearing. At one point, he collapsed and the proceeding was delayed for 10 minutes while he recovered. Quebec Court Justice Louise Provost then delivered her verdict.
Applebaum faced 14 charges. He was found guilty of fraud against the government, breach of trust, conspiracy and corruption in municipal affairs. Four charges were frozen and he was found not guilty on two fraud charges.
Applebaum was released from custody, he will be sentenced on February 15.
After the hearing, Applebaum’s lawyer, Pierre Teasdale told the media that the defense will analyze the judgement before deciding if they would appeal the decision.
Applebaum resigned from his interim mayor position seven months into his mandate after being arrested early morning in June 2013 by Quebec’s anti-corruption police squad. He has maintained his innocence since his arrest.
Hugo Tremblay, the prosecution’s main witness, was Applebaum’s aid when he served as Mayor of the Cote Des Neiges/NDG Borough of Montreal. Tremblay testified that he was coached by Applebaum on how to collect bribes. He alleged that Applebaum took two-thirds of the proceeds while Tremblay took the rest.
The main corruption charge claimed that Applebaum took an estimated $35,000 in bribes from businessmen Anthony Keeler and Robert Stein in 2007. In exchange for the money, Applebaum was to ensure that their Cote des Neiges real-estate plan would come to fruition.
Keeler and Stein collaborated Tremblay’s story.
Tremblay also testified that he and Applebaum took a $25,000 bribe from SOGEP a subsidiary of the now defunct Dessau engineering company, to ensure a contract to maintain a sports complex in the borough.
Applebaum, the city’s first ever Jewish Mayor, remained emotionless during the reading of the verdict and left the courthouse without speaking to reporters.
Two other former Cote des Neiges/NDG officials were arrested on the same day as Applebaum, Councilor Saulie Zajdel and permit director Jean-Yves Bisson.
Zajdel pleaded guilty to breach of trust and corruption for asking Stein to pay him $10-15 thousand dollars in favour of a demolition permit for a real estate project. Zajdel received an 18 month suspended sentence to be served in the community, a $10,000 fine to be paid to four charities and parole. Six months ago, Zajdel and his wife, Helen, moved to Israel.
Bisson pleaded guilty in 2005 to fraud for accepting a bribe from Keeler and Stein. He was sentenced to nine months to be served in the community and a fine of $13,000.