UPAC arrests St-Remi mayor over suspicious contracts
Published Friday, December 14, 2012 8:46AM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 14, 2012 7:42PM EST
MONTREAL—The mayor of the south shore town of St-Remi woke up to officers from the Surete du Quebec’s anti-corruption squad on Friday, as Michel Lavoie now faces seven charges, including fraud.
Mayor of the town of 7,000 since 2005, Lavoie faces conspiracy, fraud and breach of trust allegations. The mayor’s son as well as the president of Dorais Construction, Dominque Dorais, were also nabbed as part of Operation Hammer.
Investigators accuse the three of using Lavoie's position as mayor to change zoning regulations and rig the tenders for construction contracts. The trio is facing a combined 17 charges, with authorities hoping the case will proceed to trial in March 2013.
With none of the town’s elected officials willing to comment, the city’s manager spoke on their behalf.
“They raided our offices and our computers,” said city manager Nancy Corriveau.
Investigators have been watching Lavoie for more than two years and had previously raided the mayor's office. In July 2010, police searched Lavoie's home and his offices under suspicion he was at the heart of a conspiracy to develop a senior's residence and a new fire station.
The fire station was built by Dorais Construction, which submitted the lowest bid on a project where tenders were only open for one week. According to investigators, the fire hall cost $300,000 more than the municipal estimate.
“We never noticed any irregularities in that awarding of contracts,” said Corriveau, who believes the mayor will continue sitting and exercising his functions.
The senior's residence was built by a firm run by Developpement B&L, run by Yvon Boyer and Luc Morin. Both men have been found guilty of attempting to bribe a public official after a bureaucrat informed police. The pair was then caught on hidden camera attempting to give the bureaucrat more than $6,000.
Boyer and Morin will be sentenced in May 2013.
The only other mayor to be charged in the corruption scandal so far in Quebec is Mascouche Mayor Richard Marcotte, who resigned two weeks ago. While some residents believe Lavoie should stay on, most told CTV Montreal that he's got to go.