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Montreal's interim mayor arrested on fraud charges

By Paula Newton, CNN
June 18, 2013 -- Updated 1122 GMT (1922 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Michael Applebaum faces 14 counts including fraud, breach of trust and conspiracy
  • The charges relate to two "real estate projects," a police official says
  • Applebaum, who denies all charges, had promised to "end an era of sleaze"

Ottawa (CNN) -- Montreal's interim mayor, Michael Applebaum, was arrested and charged early Monday with 14 criminal counts including fraud, breach of trust and conspiracy.

Quebec police said the charges involve at least two Montreal real estate transactions from 2006 to 2011 and hundreds of thousands of dollars traded hands.

"These allegations rest essentially on obtaining permission and political support on two real estate projects," said Capt. Andre Boulanger of the Surete du Quebec, the province's police force. He would not confirm or deny if the charges involve bribes or ties to gangsters and organized crime.

Applebaum took over the mayor's job in November after Gerald Tremblay resigned amid corruption allegations. At the time, Applebaum vowed to "end an era of sleaze" at Montreal City Hall.

From 2006 to 2011, Applebaum served as the borough mayor of a large suburb of Montreal. During this time he also served on the city council.

Commenting at a police news conference Monday, the head of Quebec's anti-corruption squad, Cmdr. Robert LaFreniere, said, "We can no longer tolerate these reprehensible acts committed towards the management of our public institutions. The values of ethics and integrity must remain at the heart of the actions taken by our elected officials."

Officers said the investigation began in March after they received what they described as "solid" evidence from members of the public. Quebec police say the investigation continues and they are not ruling out more arrests.

This is the most recent explosive allegation to rock the city of Montreal as the details of an insidious corruption scandal have been laid bare at a province-wide inquiry. Testimony at that inquiry has outlined widespread corruption allegations and close relationships between elected officials, city employees, contractors and even organized crime.

Applebaum denies all charges.

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