Supreme Court of Canada refuses to hear Montreal South Shore corruption case

Chateauguay, Quebec. SOURCE: Ville de Chateauguay

The Supreme Court of Canada will not hear the case of a contractor from the Chateauguay region on Montreal's South Shore found guilty of corruption in municipal affairs for acts committed in the fall of 2013.

Michel Bergevin was convicted for having "given, offered to give, agreed to give or agreed to offer" a sum of money then-mayor Nathalie Simon.

As is customary, the Supreme Court did not justify its decision to dismiss the appeal in this case.

Bergevin was first found guilty by the Court of Quebec in Nov. 2017, then the Quebec Court of Appeal rejected his request for review last May.

According to court documents, former Chateauguay municipal councillor Rene Lafrance, who later died, approached Simon to offer to illegally finance her electoral campaign.

In exchange, he demanded to be appointed director of development for the municipality.

Simon immediately reported Lafrance's approach to the Permanent Anti-Corruption Unit (UPAC) which opened an investigation.

At the end of the electoral campaign, Simon was re-elected.

However, she reportedly informed Lafrance that she had incurred a debt during the race.

He then reiterated his offer of financial assistance, suggesting that people were ready to contribute.

This is where the excavation contractor Bergevin gets involved in the story.

Lafrance turned to him to obtain $30,000 which was to be used to repay the mayor's debt.

According to the evidence presented in court, Bergevin gave Lafrance $31,000 in cash. In return, he was expected to facilitate the completion of a project on land belonging to him.

On March 12, 2018, Bergevin was ordered to pay a victim fine surcharge and to submit to two years probation.

He was also forced to perform 240 hours of community service as well as to make three donations of $2,000 to charitable organizations in Chateauguay.

In Lafrance's case, he pleaded guilty to the charges against him and was sentenced to 30 months in prison -- a sentence he served before his death.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. 

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