In a situation rarely seen at the Montreal courthouse, the former number two man at city hall, Frank Zampino, appeared in court today on two separate sets of charges in two different courtrooms.
Both sets of charges are tied to municipal contracts awarded during Zampino's time as head of the city's executive committee.
Zampino is currently on trial for fraud, conspiracy and breach of trust connected to the Faubourg Contrecoeur development deal.
He was arrested in September on a whole new set of charges including fraud, conspiracy, municipal corruption and breach of trust in connection with the awarding of dozens of municipal contracts worth a total value of $160 million.
He has pleaded not guilty in the first case, and has yet to enter a plea in the second case.
Zampino's busy legal schedule led to a bizarre scenario at the Montreal courthouse Wednesday morning, with his lawyers finishing one matter in one courtroom, and then shuffling down a flight of stairs to the other courtroom where his trial continues.
Lawyer asks judge to toss one set of charges
Zampino was in the middle of being cross-examined when the Faubourg Contrecoeur trial was on recess in September. It was during this break in the trial that he was arrested on the new charges.
Isabel Schurman, Zampino's lawyer, argued last month before Quebec Court Judge Yvan Poulton that it was highly unusual for someone to be arrested while they're in the midst being cross-examined in a separate trial.
Some lawyers from Zampino trial leave one courtroom where he appeared on new charges and head to another where his other trial continues pic.twitter.com/6rE3CxY2Cx— @Steverukavina
She told the court that the situation was unfair, and she filed a motion requesting that the charges against Zampino in the Faubourg Contrecoeur matter be stayed.
Poulin agreed to hear Schurman's arguments, but he said he would wait until all the testimony in the trial had wrapped up.
Zampino wants to speed up process for new charges
As for the the new charges Zampino faced Wednesday morning, Schurman told the judge in that case that Zampino would ask to be tried separately from his co-defendants.
Zampino would waive his right to a preliminary hearing so as to proceed to trial as quickly as possible, she added.
She said this was in part due to the fact that one of the co-accused, Bernard Trépanier, was "apparently terminally ill."
Trépanier is a former fundraiser for Zampino's political party. His name has come up several times in Zampino's other trial tied to Faubourg Contrecoeur.