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Turning the page: Laval mayor says last $60 million recovered from corruption

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Laval Mayor Stéphane Boyer brought out a paper shredder at a press conference Tuesday to symbolically end a dark chapter of the city's history.

It came with the announcement that after 10 years, the city was "able to recuperate $60 million for the citizens of Laval, all money that was stolen from our citizens".

It took a specialized team of investigators and lawyers eight years to recuperate the money, including a large sum from former mayor Gilles Vaillancourt. He was convicted and, in December 2016, sentenced to six years for fraud, breach of trust and conspiracy to commit fraud.

Laval legal affairs director Simon Tremblay says the work went relatively fast considering the scope of the crimes.

"We only had one judgment, all of them, all the others were for settlement out of court, and we took the guarantee, we took security to make sure we got paid," he said.

Boyer says some had tried to discourage him from pursuing the lawsuits, saying the city would lose too much on lawyer fees. He says not only did they recuperate $60 million, but they sent a message that City Hall can't be bought.

The city plans to reinvest the money back into the community through infrastructure and a foundation to help young people. The opposition says the money should go back to taxpayers dealing with a property tax hike and inflation.

"We just recuperated all this money," Paolo Galati said. "There could have been a way to balance the budget and make sure that, you know, less money comes out of our taxpayer's pockets.

Boyer says he wants to stop talking about the past and focus on the future, restoring the city's reputation as a good place to live.

"We want to turn the page," he said, "and we want to say that Laval is not what only happened under Gilles Vaillancourt." 

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