Former Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum gets parole

Former Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum has been granted parole, two months after he began serving a one-year jail sentence on corruption-related offences. He told the provincial parole board he has no plans to return to public office.

Man who once pledged to clean up city hall told parole board he does 'not envision a return to public life'

Former politician Michael Applebaum has been granted parole, two months after he was jailed on corruption-related offences. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Former Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum has been granted parole, two months after he began serving a one-year jail sentence for eight corruption-related offences, including fraud and breach of trust.

Applebaum, who was chosen by councillors to serve as interim mayor from Nov. 16, 2012 until June 18, 2013, was freed after serving one-sixth of his sentence. He still must serve two years of probation.

Applebaum was convicted in January on eight of 14 charges, including two counts each of committing fraud against the government, conspiracy to commit fraud against the government, breach of trust and conspiracy to commit breach of trust.

Parole conditions

The former mayor must comply with a number of conditions between now and July 27; among them, he has to look for a paying job and perform 20 hours of community service a week.

At his hearing before the provincial parole board earlier today, the board noted that Applebaum had now admitted to the facts of his case, expressed remorse and learned from the experience — all suggesting that he is at a low risk of committing another crime.

The board also said that Applebaum is swamped by legal bills and is eager to find a job. 

Michael Applebaum, right, seen here accompanied by his lawyer Pierre Teasdale, was convicted of eight charges, including conspiracy and breach of trust. (Radio-Canada)

Shady dealings

Applebaum's crimes occurred between 2006 and 2011, a period in which he was borough mayor of  Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.

They involved two projects — a proposed real estate development, and a municipal contract for the management and maintenance of the NDG Sports Centre.

The Crown argued Applebaum accepted at least $55,000 in cash kickbacks in exchange for ensuring the projects were approved by his administration.

While Applebaum never admitted to any illegal activity on the surveillance recordings heard in court, he was recorded telling the Crown's star witness, former political aide Hugo Tremblay: "In the end they have to have the money." 

The court heard that during one conversation in 2007, Tremblay recalls Applebaum saying, "We gotta make a living."

"I realized at that moment that Michael Applebaum was open to corruption," Tremblay told the court.

Didn't pocket money

At his parole board hearing today, the board noted that Applebaum's probation officer has watched him swing between feelings of bitterness towards his former political attaché, Tremblay, and sadness and repentance about having betrayed the oath he took when he became mayor.

''You make it clear that you never profited personally from the money, and that it's your [political] party that got it," the board observed. "However, you recognize that's illegal, no matter who benefited." 

The board also noted that Applebaum said he found his two months of incarceration difficult, "notably because of the position you used to occupy."

The parole board said he is eager to return home, to provide for his family, look for work and carry out community service, but that the longtime municipal politician does "not envision a return to public life."