Police arrest ex-mayor of Que. municipality

Quebec provincial police have arrested Robert Poirier, the former mayor of Boisbriand, Que., as part of Operation Hammer, the province's specialized unit to weed out corruption in the construction industry.

Quebec provincial police have arrested the former mayor of Boisbriand, Que., Robert Poirier, after an investigation by the province's anti-corruption squad.

Poirier is facing charges of breach of trust, fraud and conspiracy to commit a fraud.

"He was part of a group offering contracts to the [same] construction company," said Sgt. Ronald McInnis.

"It's always the same company that got the contracts," McInnis added.

A police spokesman said Poirier was released with certain conditions and under a promise to appear in court at a later date in St-Jérôme, Que.

Poirier was mayor of the affluent suburb north of Montreal from 1998 until he stepped down in July 2005, after allegations of extortion were made by a businessman.

Police said Tuesday's arrest was linked to another investigation that led to the arrest of seven people from Boisbriand in February, including another former mayor, Sylvie Saint-Jean, city councillors and entrepreneur, Lino Zambito.

Police allege a system was in place for years that handed certain firms lucrative municipal contracts with inside information from city officials.

The seven arrested in February have been charged with breach of trust, fraud, conspiracy and extortion.

Tuesday's arrest was made under Operation Hammer, Quebec's anti-corruption squad that has now been folded into the province's newly minted, permanent anti-corruption unit.

The 189-member task force has a mandate to weed out corruption and investigate influence-peddling and collusion.

With files from The Canadian Press