Montreal

Stay of legal proceedings in corruption case against former mayor of Terrebonne

The former mayor of Terrebonne, Jean-Marc Robitaille, has seen the charges against him stayed in a three-year corruption case, after a judge determined the prosecution had violated the rules of procedure.

Judge says prosecution violated rules of procedure by failing to disclose evidence

Former Terrebonne mayor Jean-Marc Robitaille was among five people arrested in March 2018 as part of an investigation into public contract fraud in the municipality. (Radio-Canada)

The former mayor of Terrebonne, Jean-Marc Robitaille, has seen the charges against him stayed in a three-year corruption case after a judge determined the prosecution had violated the rules of procedure.

On Monday, at the St-Jérôme courthouse, Justice Nancy McKenna ordered a stay of proceedings against Robitaille and three co-defendants in a case of corruption and breach of trust that has dragged on for more than three years.

Robitaille's former chief of staff, Daniel Bélec, Terrebonne's former deputy director general, Luc Papillon, and entrepreneur Normand Trudel were also implicated in the case.

The four defendants were apprehended by Quebec's anti-corruption unit (UPAC) in March 2018. A fifth suspect, engineer Jean Leroux, was also apprehended, but he has died since.

Justice McKenna found that the prosecution violated the rules of procedure by not disclosing, or disclosing too late, certain evidence on the record that could have served the defence. 

"This way of behaving reflects a search for victory at all costs," she said.

"This is an affront to the system."

UPAC, DPCP consider appealing

In a statement sent to Radio-Canada, UPAC said it was going to take time to analyze the decision. 

"We will not make any further comment until the decision whether or not to appeal the judgment is known," it said.

For its part, the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP) argued in a written statement that in light of a preliminary analysis of the judgment, the findings made by Justice McKenna do not appear to be founded on the evidence presented .

The DPCP is also considering appealing to the Quebec Court of Appeal.

The Crown sought to demonstrate that Robitaille implemented a contract-sharing scheme between certain engineering firms and that he greatly benefited from the scheme.

A former federal politician, Robitaille was first elected mayor of Terrebonne in 1997 and served for nearly 20 years. He resigned in 2016 citing health reasons. 

With files from Radio-Canada

now