Surprenant confirms Zambito claims at Charbonneau Commission
Published Monday, October 22, 2012 11:07AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, October 22, 2012 7:27PM EDT
MONTREAL - Retired City of Montreal engineer Gilles Surprenant was back on the stand at the Charbonneau Commission Monday, continuing testimony he began last Thursday, detailing kickbacks that he took while working for the city.
Surprenant admitted that he and colleague Luc Leclerc golfed twice with reputed Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto, including once during a holiday in the Dominican Republic, which was paid for by contractor Tony Conte of the Conex construction firm.
He also confirmed statements made by the previous witness, former Infrabec Executive Lino Zambito, concerning an established kickback scheme which favoured bidders who paid the equivalent of 2.5 percent of the value of contracts to “a criminal organization that met at Café Consenza,” as Surprenant described it.
Previous commission testimony suggests that he was referring to the Montreal Mafia, which gathered at the now-defunct café on Jean Talon East.
Surprenant also said that an additional three percent was given to the city’s executive committee.
Lino Zambito had also made reference to that same three percent payment, but unlike Surprenant, Zambito said that it went to Mayor Tremblay’s Union Montreal Party.
Surprenant also modified a statement he made last Thursday.
He had previously said that contractor Frank Catania told him in 1991 that those who don’t participate in the scheme will be “removed” but on Monday he said that Catania actually said that those who don’t participate in the scheme would be “eliminated.”
“I was afraid of the consequence. I must admit that since those years I’ve lived in fear,” said the visibly-shaken Surprenant.
Surprenant said that he took a bribe of $3,000 to $4,000 -- his first -- at that 1991 meeting.
Last Thursday Surprenant admitted taking about $600,000 in bribes between 1991 and 2009 while he was overseeing the replacement of sewage pipes in the city.
He said Monday that construction contractors and certain city employees have long been socializing together.
As far back as in 1976 city employees played golf in a tournament alongside contractors, who also lavished gifts and dinner invitations to those employees, reported Surprenant.
Witnesses feared at risk
Earlier Monday, Justice France Charbonneau embarked on the new week of overseeing construction commission testimony by pleading with media to avoid publishing information that might put witnesses at risk.
Charbonneau once again asked media not to name upcoming witnesses or publish their home addresses.
In a separate media interview Monday morning, witness Lino Zambito told interviewer Mario Dumont that he feels safe and that his family is being well-protected by provincial police officers.
Former City of Montreal Engineer Gilles Surprenant started his testimony at around 11:00 a.m. Monday morning after lawyers thrashed out rules on a partial publication ban.
-With a file from The Canadian Press