Witness: Montreal mayor's former right-hand man was corrupt

Latest corruption probe bombshell is allegations against Frank Zampino, who is already facing fraud charges

(Ryan Remiorz/CP)


MONTREAL – The City of Montreal’s second most-powerful politician, after the mayor, was among a number of corrupt municipal officials, according to bombshell testimony delivered Monday.

That allegation was made at the Quebec corruption inquiry where, so far, very little of the testimony has implicated elected politicians.

But a witness from the construction industry said Monday that Frank Zampino, who was once the No. 2 at city hall and the right-hand man to Mayor Gerald Tremblay, was on the take.

Zampino, the former head of the city’s executive committee, has left politics. He was arrested earlier this year and now faces fraud charges.

The testimony against him was delivered by Elio Pagliarulo — a former construction-industry insider who said he ran a loansharking business in partnership with a construction magnate.

Pagliarulo was testifying about the corruption, Mafia ties and bid-rigging he witnessed and participated in during his days working with the Catania construction empire.

He said he had a spectacular falling out with his old friends several years ago.

When he owed them money, he says, he was kidnapped and beaten up and heavy damage was done to his face. Pagliarulo says funeral flowers were also sent to his family home, as a message: pay, or else.

He also said that when he was on better terms with the Catanias, they discussed the possibility of torching a rival company’s vehicles.

As for corruption, Pagliarulo said bribes were rampant and in one case it consisted of paying down the mortage on the house of a municipal engineer.

An inquiry lawyer asked Pagliarulo how far the Catanias would go to maintain their position in the construction industry.

Pagliarulo referred to his own kidnapping and beating.

“If I was his best friend at the time, and look what he did to me, you can just imagine what he’d do to a stranger,” he said.

“In the community, you don’t mess around with these two people,” he said, referring to the father and son team that built the business. “They’re connected to a crime family.”

He also described lavish parties thrown by his old associates — including a birthday party he says was attended by Gloria Gaynor, best known for the disco hit, “I Will Survive.”