Union boss found guilty of fraud
Published Friday, September 26, 2014 11:11AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 26, 2014 6:26PM EDT
The former head of Quebec's largest construction union has been found guilty of defrauding the union and its membership.
Jocelyn Dupuis, who was the director general of the FTQ-Construction, is convicted of fabricating hundreds of false expense documents in order to pocket more than $100,000.
His expense account from 2008 showed he claimed at least $63,000 in travel and meals expenses, except the prosecution showed he fabricated most of his claims.
The majority of the expenses were for lavish restaurant meals and expensive bottles of wine.
Dupuis didn't hesitate to order $300 or $400 bottles of wine at restaurants.
In one instance, he claimed $1,500 for a meal when the bill was $1,100. The meal was on a Sunday in December when the construction wing was closed for the holidays.
In another, during a union trip to California and Las Vegas in March 2008, Dupuis claimed $7,800 for four meals for which he did have proper receipts.
“I always thought it made absolutely no sense to bill a trade union in 2008 thousands and thousands of dollars in meals simply by filling small scraps of paper,” said prosecutor Jacques Dagenais.
The case came to light during the scandals that eventually led to the creation of the Charbonneau Commission.
During the trial Dupuis admitted to falsifying the reports, but justified his actions by saying that management within the union was aware of what he was doing and why.
Dupuis said he was spending so much of his own money taking care of union duties that he needed a way to be quickly reimbursed, and so came up with the false claims.
The judge presiding over the case rejected those arguments, pointing out there were many legitimate ways that Dupuis could have been paid including using a corporate credit card or filing legitimate expense claims.
Asking why someone would need to falsify receipts for reimbursements they were already entitled to, Quebec court Judge Denis Lavergne came to this conclusion: "No witness can provide a rational answer to this inconsistency because there just isn't any."
"It would be more accurate to say there's nothing in the file that shows [the executive] knew and agreed with the method," said Lavergne.
The FTQ-Construction has since overhauled its accounting methods, which everyone, including the Crown, admitted were sloppy.
Dupuis faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, although it is unlikely he will serve that long.
The judge has asked the Crown and Dupuis' defence lawyer to come up with a joint recommendation, to be made on Oct. 21 when sentencing hearings begin.
Dupuis still faces an additional fraud charge in another case.