Milioto denies giving envelope of cash to Union Montréal
"Mr. Sidewalk" insists he never paid kickbacks to city officials
Nicolo Milioto says the man who told the province's corruption commission the construction boss pulled him into a bathroom and handed him an envelope full of cash for the Union Montreal party is a "professional liar."
Milioto finished his testimony before the province’s corruption commission this afternoon, but not before attempting to discredit the testimony of Martin Dumont, a former Union Montreal organizer who testified before the commission last fall.
In October, Dumont told the commission that Milioto delivered the envelope with $10,000 cash to him at a fundraising cocktail party in the fall of 2004.
He also recounted a time when he said Milioto went to his office and threatened him.
What Dumont said:
…Mr. Milioto came to my office and asked to meet with me. I was very surprised. I thought that he was there to meet the mayor, who wasn’t there. So, he asked to speak with me. I let him into my office…
I went in first because he insisted that I go in first and I sat behind my desk. He closed the door and sat down. He said two things, he said, ‘You know, Martin, my sidewalk foundations are very thick and deep.’ I didn’t understand what he was saying. I said, ‘Excuse me, Mr. Milioto, can you explain to me what you’re trying to say?’ It was at that moment that he said, ‘I wouldn’t want you to be found in my sidewalk foundations.’ I got up. I opened the door and didn’t say a word. He tried to shake my hand, but I didn’t shake his. He said, ‘Have a good day, Mr. Dumont. It was good to see you,’ with a big smile. He said hello to the mayor’s assistant and he left.
(Testimony given on Oct. 30)
The retired construction boss, in slow, enunciated sentences, told the commission that he had never met Martin Dumont.
He said he recalled the fundraising event Dumont mentioned and even corrected the prosecutor on the location.
He said he walked into the hall where the event was taking place, paid the women at the table the $250 or so ticket price in cash and only stayed an hour because he had to get up early the next day.
It was an unusual and striking bit of clarity amid four days dominated by Milioto’s patchwork recollection of events.
In his three previous days of testimony, he responded "I don’t know," or "I don’t remember," a total of 110 times.
He told the commission he didn’t know what he did with $25,000 he was caught on tape taking from Mafia godfather Nicolo Rizzuto in 2004. He did remember that it was a loan that he repaid.
He said he had no knowledge of what the Mafia was, outside of what he’d read in the newspaper. He also said he had never heard of the term "pizzo" or a cut given to the Mob.
His good memory when it came to the testimony of Martin Dumont was enough of a departure that it was noted by commission chair France Charbonneau.
"You don’t know what the Cosa Nostra is. You don’t know why the money was given to Rizzuto. You don’t know why money was given to [Rocco] Solicito in front of Mr. Rizzuto…"
Milioto said he remembered the inconsistencies in Dumont’s version of events because it made him angry.
"He’s mixed me with someone else because I never said my name is Mr. Sidewalk. My name is Milioto, it’s not hard in French," he said.
"He’s a professional liar. I never met him, Madame President."
Earlier in the day, Milioto was grilled about a spike in city contracts his company obtained during what has been described as the height of collusion with bureaucrats at city hall.
Milioto’s work with the city jumped between 2006 and 2009, topping out at nearly $22 million in work. However, that figure plummeted after 2009, the same time the city instituted a new code of ethics.
Other witnesses have told the commission a system of collusion ground to a halt in 2009 because of increased scrutiny on the tendering process and new provincial legislation.
Milioto challenged the figures presented by commission prosecutor Sonia LeBel.
He said his company never made more than $11 million in a single year from the city and said he would bring in his financial records for the previous five years to confirm that.
Relationships with bureaucrats
Milioto was questioned about his relationship with several bureaucrats who have been identified as playing a role in the bid- rigging and false extras in city contracts.
Two such players – the former director of public works, Robert Marcil, and former head of site supervision, Gilles Vézina – attended Milioto’s daughter’s wedding. His daughter worked for the City of Montreal, and Milioto suggested that she invited Marcil, but he later confirmed he invited Vézina.
Vézina and his wife were also on the guest list of a lunch at an exclusive Old Montreal club hosted by Paolo Catania and attended by Milioto and his wife.
Milioto dismissed the event as three friends having a meal with their spouses and said it wasn’t a business discussion.
He denied ever giving kickbacks to employees at city hall.
""Nick Milioto never gave envelopes to anyone," he said.
Denies contract rigging
Milioto again insisted that he was never involved in a collusion scheme or bid-rigging at city hall, the details of which dominated the testimony of previous witnesses such as city engineer Luc Leclerc.
Leclerc told the commission he accepted $500,000 in kickbacks and thousands more in lavish gifts over the years after he helped construction bosses inflate the price of city contracts.
The commission also heard from Milioto about his relationship with Leclerc, who supervised several of the projects Milioto’s company was charged with.
Prosecutor Sonia LeBel presented the commission with phone records showing 104 calls made from Leclerc to Milioto between May 2004 and Sept. 2009.
In September 2007, Leclerc made several calls to Milioto just as the bid submissions had been opened on a project.
Milioto said the timing of the calls didn’t mean they were talking about that particular job.
"I may have had other projects in the works with him," Milioto said. "It is normal that an engineer talks to a contractor."
He accused LeBel of inferring there was something untoward about the phone calls and called the insinuation "unacceptable."
Milioto said he never gave cash to any city bureaucrats but said he would give them an occasional bottle of wine or take them out for lunch to help expedite the payment process from the city.
However, another contractor, Michel Leclerc, told the commission last fall that he often saw Milioto and Marcil at restaurants together, sometimes as frequently as once a week.
"He’s a big liar," Milioto said. "It was maybe 3 or 4 times a year. "
City contracts obtained by Milioto's company