Former Quebec construction mogul Tony Accurso received a four-year prison term on Thursday following his conviction on fraud and corruption charges.
A jury recently found Accurso guilty on all five charges he was facing stemming from a municipal corruption scheme in Laval.
The Crown was seeking a five-year prison term, while Accurso’s lawyer, Marc Labelle, argued his client should serve a suspended sentence in the community.
Labelle said he wasn’t surprised by the sentence and that he intends to appeal both the verdict and the sentence next Tuesday.
Accurso, 66, will remain behind bars at least until then.
Crown prosecutor Philippe-Pierre Langevin was satisfied with the sentence, saying it reflects the scope of the crimes committed.
The corruption scheme lasted between 1996 and 2010 and was run by former Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt, who pleaded guilty to fraud-related charges and was sentenced to six years in prison.
Quebec Superior Court Justice James Brunton did not agree to a Crown request that Accurso pay $1.6 million in restitution to the City of Laval.
The $1.6 million represented two per cent of the value of the contracts awarded to Accurso’s firms that authorities believe was paid in kickbacks to city officials.
At his trial, Accurso denied any involvement in the scheme and testified he was not aware of any such system in place.
Labelle said the system of collusion and corruption was put in place by Vaillancourt and that Accurso “did not create this system, it was imposed,” adding his client had no choice but to comply.
Labelle noted that because of the size of Accurso’s construction firms, no others could have legitimately competed with him.
Accurso was found guilty of 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.
His first trial ended last November when one juror said she had received information from a person linked to a key witness and that she had shared the details with two other jurors.
Accurso was the last of 37 people arrested in 2013 to be tried. Besides Vaillancourt, 26 others pleaded guilty, six had their cases dismissed because of judicial delays and three other people died before the end of their legal proceedings.