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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Former Boisbriand mayor arrested in construction probe

Seven people, including a former mayor of Boisbriand and a businessman who heads a company that received many contracts from the municipality, were arrested Thursday morning and face 28 criminal charges filed as part of Operation Hammer, an investigation into allegations of corruption in Quebec's construction industry.
The seven people arrested by the Sûreté du Québec, including Boisbriand ex-mayor Sylvie St. Jean, 51, are expected to be released after being questioned, SQ Inspector Denis Morin said.
St. Jean and Lino Zambito, 41, the owner of the company Infrabec, face charges including conspiracy, breach of trust, and fraud.
“The investigation by the Hammer squad is trying to demonstrate that for several years a system has been in place to favour certain firms for the allotment of very lucrative municipal contracts,” Morin said. “This system sought to furnish advantages to certain former councillors or elected municipal officials in Boisbriand in exchange for favourable decisions in the awarding of contracts.”
Morin said payments were made in the form of “illegal political financing, or bribes, gifts or other advantages that elected officials or civil servants received in return” for municipal contracts. Morin specified trips were one type of gifts offered as bribes.
Thursday's arrests came after investigators analyzed several documents seized when three search warrants were carried out earlier in the investigation, in 2009 and 2010, Morin said.
One charge singles out Zambito and alleges he used extortion in an attempt to secure contracts for lucrative projects in Boisbriand called Grande Tourelle and Cote Sud.
St. Jean, who lost the mayoral race in 2009, faces seven charges in all. Besides being charged with taking part in a conspiracy with Zambito, she is also accused, in an arrest warrant filed Thursday at the St. Jerome courthouse, of municipal corruption, conspiracy to commit fraud and committing fraud on the city of Boisbriand. She is also alleged to have accepted, or agreed to accept, “a loan, reward, or a benefit” from Zambito sometime between Jan. 1, 2009, and Oct. 28, 2009.
The people are to be released on a promise to appear in court at a later date.


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