Canadian construction boss guilty on five fraud and corruption charges

A Quebec businessman who ran a number of construction companies has been found guilty on five charges relating to the letting of public contracts tendered by the city of Laval in the northern suburbs of Montreal.

Tony Accurso was found guilty of conspiracy to commit acts of corruption, conspiracy to commit fraud, fraud over $5,000, municipal corruption and aiding in a breach of trust. The charges relate to contracts let between 1996 and 2010.

Gilles Vaillancourt, the former mayor of Laval, has already been sentenced to six years. He was one of more than 24 people to face charges relating to corruption, all of whom pleaded guilty in return for reduced sentences. Accurso, 66, was the only one who opted to go to a full trial.

Accurso greeted the verdict impassively, after which he left courthouse. He is expected to return on Thursday, 5 July, for sentencing arguments.

The Crown, which is seeking a custodial sentence, argued that Accurso participated in a kickback scheme on construction contracts doled out in that city.

Accurso testified that his focus was on growing his construction empire, which included contractors Constructions Louisbourg and Simard-Beaudry Construction. He said he left the day-to-day administration of his businesses to his right-hand men, Joe Molluso and Frank Minicucci, the respective presidents of Louisbourg and Simard-Beaudry.

Accurso’s lawyer, Marc Labelle, said of the verdict: "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."

The veteran lawyer wouldn’t comment on the possibility of appealing the verdict, but agreed his client’s notoriety may have tilted the case against him.

Crown attorney Richard Rougeau welcomed the jury’s decision, made following seven days of deliberation. He said: "Obviously, it’s an accomplishment. We are particularly satisfied with the result."

Image: Tony Accurso at his court hearing (YouTube)

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