Four retired SQ bosses facing fraud charges
Published Monday, January 27, 2014 10:11PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 13, 2014 12:08PM EST
Four former senior members of the Surete du Quebec -- including the former chief -- are facing criminal charges.
Former SQ director-general Richard Deschenes, former deputy director Steven Chabot, former chief inspector Alfred Tremblay, and Jean Audette, who was deputy director of criminal investigations are accused of fraud, theft and breach of trust concerning the questionable use of a $26-million secret expense fund.
“The charges are fraud exceeding $5,000, theft exceeding $5,000, and breach of trust by a public officer,” said Jean-Pascal Boucher of the Crown prosecutor’s office.
Chabot's lawyer confirmed to CTV News his client is accused of theft of more than $5,000, fraud and abuse of confidence.
CTV News has learned that at least three of the accused former officers appeared at the Montreal police east end operations centre to be officially fingerprinted.
The four men were expected to report to police Wednesday to be identified. They are scheduled to appear in court on February 13, 2014.
If found guilty, they could face up to five years in prison.
The men allegedly diverted money from an SQ expense fund toward severance packages for Chabot and Tremblay.
The money was supposed to be used for financing investigations into drug trafficking and paying informants.
Deschenes, who served as chief from 2008 to 2012, was fired as SQ chief soon after the Parti Quebecois was elected to government in 2012 and Mario Laprise was named the force's director-general.
Audette was suspended around the same time.
Current SQ Director General Laprise ordered the inspection into the alleged misuse of the police force's funds.
The charges are the result of a year-long investigation by a special unit created by Quebec’s Public Security Minister Stéphane Bergeron after Laprise sounded the alarm, when he discovered $26 million was missing from the special operations fund.
In a statement, the SQ's Laprise said it has taken steps to limit access to the force's special funds, and that: "All of the measures put in place following this event aim to maintain the highest standards of integrity within the SQ and to maintain the public's trust."
Former SQ officer turner criminologist Luc Hebert of the Universite de Montreal said the allegations are no surprise to him.
"For them, everything is easy, they're the decision makers, everything is easy for them," he said, adding that i's time for more transparency.
"I want more information than that..what are the controls put in place..who controls who, and if someone suspects something, on what door can he knock?"