June 26, 2018 by Pierre Saint-Arnaud, The Canadian Press
LAVAL, Que.—A jury has found Quebec construction magnate Tony Accurso guilty on all five charges he was facing including fraud and corruption.
Accurso, 66, was impassive as the jury delivered the verdicts on their seventh day of deliberations June 25.
He was on trial in connection with a municipal corruption scheme involving former Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt.
The Crown had argued that Accurso participated in a kickback scheme on construction contracts doled out in that city.
At his trial, Accurso denied any involvement and testified he was not aware of any such system in place.
Accurso was found guilty on five charges, which were conspiracy to commit corruption in municipal affairs, conspiracy to commit fraud, fraud of more than $5,000, corruption of municipal officials and breach of trust.
More than two dozen people were charged in the fraud case, including Vaillancourt, who pleaded guilty to demanding kickbacks from construction companies in exchange for municipal contracts and was sentenced to six years in jail.
Accurso was the only one who opted to go to trial.
“It’s very disappointing for him, after presenting his defence, giving his testimony, he feels like someone who has been found guilty of something he denied,” said defence lawyer Marc Labelle.
The veteran lawyer wouldn’t comment on the possibility of appealing the case, but agreed his client’s notoriety may have tilted the case against him.
Crown attorney Richard Rougeau welcomed the jury’s decision.
“Obviously, it’s an accomplishment,” he told reporters at the Laval courthouse. “We are particularly satisfied with the result.”
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Thursday before Quebec Superior Court Justice James Brunton.
It was Accurso’s second trial on the same charges—last November, his first fraud and corruption trial ended in a mistrial.
The second trial began in May.