Montreal

Construction magnate's accuser stands by story

A businessman who says he was beaten unconscious and threatened for failing to pay back a loan to the head of one of Quebec's largest construction firms is standing by his story.

A businessman who says he was beaten unconscious and threatened for failing to pay back a loan to the head of one of Quebec's largest construction firms is standing by his story.

Paolo Catania, the owner of Frank Catania Construction — which has been awarded several multi-million dollar contracts by the city of Montreal — was arraigned on Friday on charges including uttering death threats, extortion and harassment.

His accuser, Elio Pagliarulo, said Monday he has gone into hiding on the advice of police. He said he fears for his safety and that of his family.

Catania was arrested following claims by his former friend and business associate that some of Catania's associates grabbed him while he was driving on Mont-Royal Avenue in Outremont, and abducted him for nearly three hours on Aug. 1.

'This gentleman is ruining my reputation — or is trying to.'—Paolo Catania, Owner, Frank Catania Construction

Pagliarulo says he was severely beaten and left with multiple fractures to his face.

Flanked by his lawyers at a news conference on Monday, Catania denied the accusations.

"This gentleman is ruining my reputation — or is trying to," he said.

Catania described Pagliarulo as a man out for revenge. He said Pagliarulo was forced to declare bankruptcy after Catania called in a $1.4-million loan.

Catania says his former friend was "in perfect health," when he saw him at a meeting two and a half weeks ago.

But, Pagliarulo says over a month after he underwent more than three hours of surgery for his injuries, his eye is still swollen and his right side numb. He says he is missing three teeth.

Catania's company is a partner with the City of Montreal in the controversial Faubourg Contrecoeur housing development project. The city-owned property was sold to Frank Catania Construction for a fraction of the property's value.

Following an investigation into the situation, Montreal's auditor general called for a police probe into the Société d'habitation et de développement de Montréal, the city's housing and development corporation.

Catania is expected to be back in court in November.

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