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Zampino, Catania principals in deal

Zampino, Catania principals in deal

 

Eight men charged to appear next year

When former Montreal mayor Gérald Tremblay resigned this month amid allegations of corruption at city hall, he told Montrealers that had he known about the details surrounding the Faubourg Contrecoeur project, the controversial real estate deal would never have happened.

The Faubourg Contrecoeur is a residential development of single-family homes and townhouses in Montreal's Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district.

In 2007, the city's real estate agency, known as the SHDM, sold the 38-hectare lot to Construction Frank Catania et Associés for $4.4 million, even though the municipal evaluation was about $31 million.

Quebec's anti-corruption unit began investigating the deal after receiving a tip. The investigation led to the arrest last May of Frank Zam-pino, the former chairman of Montreal's executive committee, construction magnate Paolo Catania and six others. Quebec's anti-corruption unit said Zampino was "the ringleader" of a simple but effective bid-rigging scheme that defrauded Montreal taxpayers.

Zampino is alleged to have enlisted the help of Martial Fillion, former director of the SHDM, and Bernard Trépanier, former top fundraiser for Tremblay's Union Montreal party, to funnel confidential information about the contract to Catania's company.

During recent testimony at the Charbonneau Commission, Catania's former business partner Elio Pagliarulo testified that Catania worked out a deal with Zampino that allowed the construction magnate to purchase the city-owned land for a fraction of the cost. Catania also hired a private company to produce a false study that suggested the land would need to be decontaminated, Pagliarulo said, which reduced the cost even further. In return for his co-operation, Pagliarulo alleged, Zampino got $300,000 cash in three instalments.

The eight people arrested in the case, including Zam-pino and Catania, have been charged with a variety of offences, including fraud, breach of trust and conspiracy.

The other accused include several Catania employees and two former city of Montreal employees, Fillion and Trépanier.

The next court appearance for the accused is Sept. 14.