Montreal

Contrecoeur case delayed after defence learns of recorded conversations with accused

The fraud case against Frank Zampino and five other men has been delayed yet again, after the prosecution was ordered to disclose details of recordings between the defence and the accused.

Trial of Frank Zampino, 5 others adjourned as prosecution ordered to hand over evidence

Frank Zampino is alleged to have fixed the bidding process to favour a construction company in the Faubourg Contrecoeur land deal in 2007 in Montreal's east end. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

The fraud case against Frank Zampino and five other men has been delayed yet again, after the prosecution was ordered to disclose details of recordings between the defence and the accused.

The recordings were made as part of a separate, ongoing police investigation.

Isabel Schurman, lawyer for Zampino, the former chairman of Montreal's executive committee, said the defence only learned this morning that the conversations had been recorded.

The revelation came after defence lawyers received an email yesterday alerting them to new evidence.

Schurman told the court the recordings represent a violation of attorney-client privilege and called the situation "unacceptable."

Opening arguments in the trial were supposed to begin this morning, after months of delays and pre-trial motions.

Instead, the Quebec Court Judge Yvan Poulin adjourned the proceedings and ordered the prosecution to hand over the evidence to the defence by the end of the day.

Proceedings will resume Tuesday morning at the Montreal courthouse.

Allegations dating to 2007

Zampino was arrested, along with several others, in the spring of 2012 on charges of fraud, conspiracy and breach of trust in connection with a land deal. The construction firm Frank Catania & Associates is also among the accused.

Frank Zampino is seen here with his lawyer, Isabel Schurman. (CBC)
The charges are in connection with the Faubourg Contrecoeur land transaction in 2007 in the city's east end. 

The other co-accused are André Fortin, Pasquale Fedele, Martin D'Aoust and Pascal Patrice.

At the time of the land deal, Zampino was the right-hand man of former mayor Gérald Tremblay.

The piece of land in question was sold for about $4 million, but it was valued at many times more than that.

Zampino is alleged to have fixed the bidding process to favour the construction company.

All of the accused, who pleaded not guilty, will be back in court next month when the trial is set to resume.

The recordings were made as part of a separate, ongoing investigation, the Crown said.