Former mayor pleads not guilty of charges he led ‘structured network’ of gangsters in Laval city hall

Originally posted on National Post | News:

MONTREAL – Up until Thursday, the role of organized crime in Quebec’s seemingly endless saga of corruption was played by Mafiosi who rigged construction contracts and stuffed the profits in their socks.

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Now, following an early-morning police sweep that led to the arrest of former Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt and 36 others, prosecutors are alleging that the people running city hall in Quebec’s third-largest municipality were gangsters.

Mr. Vaillancourt, who became known as the “King of Laval” during a 23-year tenure that ended amid scandal last November, former city manager Claude Asselin and former director of engineering Claude Deguise appeared in court Thursday afternoon on charges including gangsterism. Mr. Vaillancourt is alleged to have headed an “organized and structured network” of corruption and collusion.

“These are extremely serious accusations,” Robert Lafrenière, commissioner of the provincial anti-corruption police squad UPAC, told reporters.

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