Saulie Zajdel pleads guilty, receives suspended sentence in bribery case
Long-time former west-end city councillor Saulie Zajdel has been sentenced to 240 hours of community service and will donate $10,000 to charity after pleading guilty to charges of breach of trust and corruption.
Zajdel initially faced charges of bribery, breach of trust, fraud and corruption in connection with a real estate deal. Zajdel admitted to accepting a $10,000 bribe from a contractor who built a real-estate development on Cote St. Luc Rd. The prosecution claimed Zajdel fast-tracked a zoning change in exchange for the payoff.
Zajdel was arrested in June 2013 along with interim Mayor Michael Applebaum and Jean-Yves Bisson, who oversaw permits in the Cote des Neiges-NDG borough.
Zajdel’s lawyer Jeffrey Boro opted not to go to trial and instead plead guilty.
“After some long and hard thinking on his part he decided it would be in everyone's best interest, including his, to simply turn the page and close the chapter in his life,” said Boro.
Zajdel received a suspended sentence and will remain on probation for 18 months.
Zajdel, 59, served on city council for 23 years starting in 1986 when he was elected under the MCM led by Jean Dore. Zajdel was once returned with 73 per cent support, the highest of any candidate in 1990. He was named to the city's executive committee after switching to Pierre Bourque's party in 1994. He joined Gerald Tremblay's Union Party in 2005 but did not serve on the executive committee.
Last Friday Bisson pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe. He was sentenced to 240 hours of community service, 18 months parole and was ordered to give $13,000 to charity. Three other charges against him were dropped.
Michael Applebaum will face a preliminary hearing Monday in connection with 14 charges.
In 2008, Applebaum was still the borough mayor in Cote-des-Neiges-NDG. Prosecutors accuse him of working with his then chief-of-staff in order to influence zoning changes in exchange for bribes.
Zajdel's lawyer said his client won't testify against Applebaum.
“This is highly unlikely because the activities of Mr. Zajdel, according to the evidence the Crown has in their possession is totally independent of what Mr. Applebaum may or may not have done,” said Boro.
Monday's preliminary hearing will allow the court to determine if there's enough evidence to send Applebaum to trial.