Montreal

Mascouche fraud trial to proceed despite delays

The trial of five people and two companies accused of fraud, fraud against the government and conspiracy in Mascouche will go ahead despite lengthy delays in the legal process so far.

Judge throws out request for stay in proceedings after lawyers for accused cite Jordan ruling

The charges stem from an alleged network of collusion for municipal contracts in Mascouche. (Radio-Canada)

The trial of five people and two companies accused of fraud, fraud against the government and conspiracy in Mascouche will go ahead despite the lengthy delays in the legal process so far. 

A Quebec Court judge turned down a request Tuesday by the accused to use a recent Supreme Court decision as grounds to have the case thrown out. 

Mascouche's former director general, Luc Tremblay, along with local businesspeople Normand Trudel, André de Maisonneuve, Rosaire Fontaine and Sylvie Chassé were charged in 2012 following an investigation by Quebec's anti-corruption task force, known as UPAC. 

Also charged were BPR Triax, an engineering firm, and Transport Excavation Mascouche, a construction company.

The accused cited the Supreme Court's so-called Jordan ruling, which establishes an upper limit on how long it should take for certain cases to come to trial.

A construction contractor, Christian Blanchet, arrested as part of the same UPAC investigation into Mascouche, successfully used the Jordan ruling to have his charges thrown out last month. 

Complex case, lots of evidence

In Tuesday's ruling, Judge Sandra Blanchard noted the accused had been waiting 59 months and 20 days for their trial, almost twice the limit set by the Supreme Court ruling.

But Blanchard also said the significant complexity of the case and the amount of evidence to be presented meant the delays were reasonable. 

"It's a case that will see a large number of witnesses called, and there's also an enormous amount of evidence to present," said Crown prosecutor Pascal Grimard.

He added that evidence was collected over a long period, from 2005 to 2012.

Pending the outcome of a separate motion, the trial is expected to begin in Joliette in January 2017.

Businessman Tony Accurso was also charged as part of the UPAC operation but will undergo a separate trial.

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