Jan 28 2014
MONTREAL - The former head of the Quebec provincial police force and three other former senior officers have been ordered to appear in court next month on charges of fraud, theft and breach of trust.
Charges filed in Montreal on Tuesday name Richard Deschenes, the force's former director-general, former assistant director Steven Chabot, Alfred Tremblay, a former assistant director of investigations, and Jean Audette, another ex-assistant director in charge of investigations.
All four have been summoned to appear in court on Feb. 13. The date for the appearance was noted in the charges.
The group is charged with fraud and breach of trust in the performance of their duties and stealing more than $5,000 from the Quebec government and the provincial police force.
The charges say the acts allegedly committed by Deschenes, Chabot and Tremblay were committed on or around March 17, 2010, while those allegedly committed by Audette happened between Oct. 27, 2011, and Oct. 15, 2012.
Deschenes stepped down unexpectedly and was replaced in October 2012 by Mario Laprise.
Laprise, who was named by the newly elected Parti Quebecois government, issued a statement Tuesday after the charges were made public.
He said the force has instituted measures to review management policies and rules governing expenses.
"All the actions that have been taken in connection with this event have been adopted in the spirit of maintaining the highest standards of integrity within the organization and to retain the public's confidence in their institution,'' the director-general said.
"Every day, our 7,700 officers and civilian members pursue their mission of service to the public guided by these standards,'' Laprise said.
According to published reports, the four officers used money from a fund that included money for criminal investigations.
The provincial police news release also said the force will not issue any other comments on the nature of the charges out of the respect for the different legal proceedings that are currently underway.
Jean-Claude Hebert, the lawyer for Chabot, said in an interview that he would not comment on the charges because he doesn't have much information.
"All we know is the name of the accused (and) the charges, but the proof has not yet been divulged,'' he said. "I'm waiting for the disclosure of the proof and if there are things to say, we'll say them in the courtroom.''
Hebert added his first step will be to determine what kind of trial will take place - whether it will by judge and jury or by judge alone.
When contacted by telephone, a secretary for Deschenes' lawyer said he was not granting any interviews.
The Crown prosecutor's office confirmed the charges in a news release.
It also pointed out that in December 2012, Quebec Public Security Minister Stephane Bergeron ordered an internal inquiry, which led to the creation of a special team of investigators.
Crown spokesman Jean Pascal Boucher says the accusations were laid after "an analysis of all the proof and detailed work'' which was carried out during the investigation.
Jan 28 2014 MONTREAL — Quebec provincial police have formally charged their own former director and three other ex-bosses with fraud, theft and breach of trust.
Steven Chabot, Alfred Tremblay, Jean Audette and former top cop Richard Deschesnes are accused of siphoning money from a secret police fund to pay a bonus and illegal consulting fees.
The case has given the public a rare look into the internal workings of the police force, known as the SQ.
Deschesnes ran the SQ from June 2008 until October 2012, when the Parti Quebecois reassigned him shortly after it took power.
His co-accused, Chabot, who retired in 2010, was the SQ's assistant director in charge of criminal investigations. Audette was Chabot's successor.
Tremblay, the fourth man charged this week, was once a chief inspector at the SQ.
All four men were to be fingerprinted and photographed Wednesday at a Montreal police precinct.
The former officers are scheduled to appear at the Montreal courthouse on Feb. 13.
In December 2012, shortly after the PQ removed Deschesnes, Public Security Minister Stephane Bergeron held a news conference to announce an investigation into what he called "extremely disturbing" findings.
He said a secret SQ expense fund had been used for a severance payment and to hire a consultant who was ineligible to work for the government because of back taxes.
The off-the-books fund is earmarked for operations such as drug transactions by undercover officers or to pay informants.
At the time, the minister said the bonus was illegal and "could be a breach of trust by a public official, and fraud."
It later emerged that a $170,000 severance payment went to Chabot, the former assistant director who's at the centre of the probe.
The case took two dramatic turns in the past two months.
Chabot filed a $1.5-million defamation suit against current SQ director Mario Laprise, even getting a bailiff to serve papers directly to Laprise's home.
Chabot admits in his lawsuit that he received the $170,000 retirement bonus and that he was entitled to the money as part of an under-the-table deal.
He accuses the Parti Quebecois of leaking information about the secret deal to the media to harm him and Deschesnes.
Then, late last month, a suspicious fire destroyed a cottage co-owned by Laprise and other former police officers.
One of Laprise's partners in the chalet venture is Bruno Beaulieu, whom QMI Agency later revealed as the man hired by Quebec to investigate the police payments.
QMI's revelations prompted the PQ to issue public statements of support for Beaulieu's independence, despite his relationship with the SQ's current boss.
One person was previously arrested and charged in the spending scandal.
Denis Despelteau, a former SQ senior officer and consultant, was charged last June with fraud, breach of trust, forgery and theft.