For someone accused of corruption, and at one point charged with a crime, Gerry Lougheed hasn't been laying low over the last three years.

The 63-year-old is still a regular speaker at fundraising dinners, community events and still sits on several boards around town.

As the bribery charge against him is about to go to trial, Lougheed's long-time friend, Reverend Jeremy Mahood thinks most in Sudbury are standing behind a man some describe as a "saint."

"There seems to be a strong undercurrent of a few people, who like it when a strong personality stumbles," he says.

Lougheed

The Lougheed family name adorns many businesses and buildings in Sudbury. (Erik White and Casey Stranges CBC)

But Lougheed's political side is something that's always mystified Mahood. 

"I don't understand that part. I don't get it."

Retired journalist Bob Vaillancourt, who worked at the Sudbury Star for 40 years, says until the scandal, Lougheed kept his role with the Liberals quiet.

"I think it was a deliberate move on his part to remain in the background. I think he wanted to keep a public persona that was apolitical."

While officially on opposing sides, Nickel Belt New Democrat MPP France Gelinas says she can see the two sides of Gerry Lougheed, just as she splits her time between Sudbury and Toronto.

"When you get to Queen's Park, they only see one part of who he is, as a strong player for the Liberal party. The people of Sudbury know him for a whole lot more than his political affiliations," she says.

"He has been a champion for our community."

For more on Gerry Lougheed, listen to this CBC radio documentary: