Montreal mayor arrested in latest Canadian scandal

Mon Jun 17, 2013 12:58pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren and Julie Gordon

(Reuters) - Montreal's new mayor, who pledged to stamp out corruption when he took office last November, was arrested and charged with fraud on Monday in another blow to the reputation of Canada's biggest cities.

Michael Applebaum, whose predecessor resigned under pressure, faces 14 charges linked to two real estate deals, police said during a morning news conference.

Applebaum's arrest is the latest in a string of municipal scandals that have undermined Canada's reputation as staid and law-abiding. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is resisting calls to quit after two media outlets said they viewed a video that appeared to show him smoking crack cocaine.

Ford says he does not use crack cocaine, and Reuters has not been able to verify the existence of the video.

Applebaum, the first anglophone mayor in mostly French-speaking Montreal in more than a century, was appointed interim mayor last November after his predecessor, Gérald Tremblay, stepped down following allegations he had turned a blind eye to corruption and illegal spending by his political party. Tremblay denies wrongdoing.

Applebaum's spokesman, Jonathan Abecassis, did not immediately respond to messages left on his work and mobile phones.

Police said Applebaum was charged with fraud, breach of trust, conspiracy, municipal corruption and secret payments. The amounts of money allegedly involved run into several tens of thousands of dollars.

"The message is clear - all actions that compromise the integrity of the state are unacceptable to the public," Robert Lafreniere, head of the Quebec police's special anti-corruption squad, told a televised news conference in Montreal.   Continued...

Michael Applebaum (L) smiles with his wife Merle (R) following his swearing-in ceremony to become Montreal's interim mayor in Montreal, Quebec, November 19, 2012. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi