Trial in Faubourg Contrecoeur alleged fraud finally underway

The crown made its opening statement this morning in the Faubourg Contrecoeur alleged fraud trial, more than a year after the official start of the case involving ex-executive committee chairman Frank Zampino, ex-construction boss Paolo Catania and four other accused.

The six men face various charges of fraud, fraud against the government, breach of trust and conspiracy in connection with the 2007 Faubourg Contrecoeur municipal land deal that saw property intended for housing sold for $4.4-milion when it was assessed at around $31-million.

Evidence is only starting to be heard now because the judge had to deal with several legal motions.

Crown prosecutor Pascal Lescarbeau said their case would show that Catania's company got privileged information "well before the tendering process" and that there were many meetings among the parties beforehand as well. 

Lescarbeau said they'd outline the roles of Catania and Zampino and the relationships among the accused.

Lescarbeau said they'll be presenting over 350 pieces of evidence - "quite substantial" amount and about 60 witnesses, including 13 police officers and three experts who will testify in chronological order "to show the scheme."

The prosecutor said they'd address 13 subjects including the financing of Union Montreal - the former party led by then-mayor Gerald Tremblay, the role of the city's real estate agency, the exchange of information, the bidding process, the advantages for Catania and trips.

Lescarbeau said one of those trips is one to Miami in 2008 allegedly paid by Catania involving Catania, Zampino and former party fundraiser Bernard Trépanier.

The judge offered the defence the chance to present their opening statements at this time but the parties declined.

The trial is expected to last several more weeks.