Fraud case against ex-interim mayor Michael Applebaum put off until late January

MONTREAL – A fraud case against Montreal’s former interim mayor has been put off until late January because the Crown has more evidence to disclose.

Prosecutor Marie-Helene Giroux requested a delay in the proceedings Wednesday against various people, including ex-mayor Michael Applebaum and one-time Tory operative Saulie Zajdel.

Jeffrey Boro, who represents Zajdel, grudgingly agreed to the request.

“My client anxiously wants to be judged and I had strict instructions to have this case moved forward,” said Boro.

The five charges against Zajdel include bribery, breach of trust, fraud and corruption.

Applebaum faces 14 charges, including fraud, conspiracy, breach of trust, and corruption in municipal affairs.

The charges stem from land deals in the Notre-Dame-de-Grace district where Applebaum served as borough mayor before ascending to the city’s top political job after three-term mayor Gerald Tremblay stepped down in November 2012.

Boro said delays in the legal system could mean a trial as far off as three years from now, which he called unacceptable.

Boro said there will be a cloud over his client all that time. But he’s advised his client to wait to see what the Crown has to offer in its disclosure.

“My client is very anxious to tell his side of the story and if I didn’t have him on a short leash, he would probably be telling the world publicly what his defence is,” Boro said.

“We will wait to have our date in court which we hope is sooner rather than later.”

The accused were not in court on Wednesday.

Applebaum, Montreal’s first anglophone mayor in 100 years, was forced to step down in June following his arrest.

Zajdel is a longtime municipal politician who ran federally for the Conservatives in 2011 and was subsequently hired by a minister’s office to work on community outreach.

The other accused in the case is Jean-Yves Bisson, a city bureaucrat.

Lawyers agreed to return to court on Jan. 29. The accused do not have to be present.

With files from Peter Rakobowchuk