Robert Flahiff, a former Quebec Superior Court justice who was convicted of laundering $1.7 million in drug money between 1989 and 1991, has died of cancer.

Robert La Haye, a well-known Quebec lawyer, said Tuesday that Flahiff died on Monday at the age of 60.

Flahiff, who was named to the bench in 1993, was found guilty in 1999 of laundering the money while he was a lawyer for a drug dealer.

He was convicted mainly on testimony from Paul Larue, a cocaine dealer who became a police informant.

A bank official also testified that Flahiff deposited large sums of money between 1989 and 1991 into an account in Switzerland.

Flahiff ended up serving about one-sixth of his three-year sentence.

La Haye, who worked with Flahiff as a legal-aid lawyer in the 1970s, recalled his former colleague as a man with a good sense of humour and who loved negotiating.

"This came in handy when he had to enter a guilty plea and there were sentencing arguments to get the best sentence possible for his client," La Haye said in an interview with Canadian Press.

"But when he couldn't agree with the Crown, he went to the wall to get the best sentence possible."

La Haye said he was surprised when he found out about Flahiff's money-laundering activities.

"It was a situation that really crippled him. He never really bounced back. They say good stress is good for one's health but that bad stress is bad."

Prison was particularly tough for Flahiff because of his high rank in the judicial world, La Haye said.

Flahiff gave up his battle to hang on to his judge's position after failing to stop an investigation by his peers into whether he was fit to remain a federally appointed judge.

In quitting, Flahiff gave up a $175,800 annual salary. He had been off work since January 1997 on paid sick leave.

It was the first time in the then 28-year history of the Canadian Judicial Council that it had to hold a formal inquiry as a result of a criminal conviction of a judge.