Ex-Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum granted parole after serving minimum

Ex-Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum granted parole after serving minimum

Former Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum arrives at the courthouse on Thursday, March 30, 2017 in Montreal. Applebaum has been granted parole after serving one-sixth of his one-year sentence on corruption-related charges.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson.

MONTREAL — Former Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum was granted parole Tuesday after serving one-sixth of his one-year sentence on corruption-related charges.

The provincial parole board attached several conditions to his release in a report following a hearing.

Applebaum must demonstrate he’s looking for work, perform a minimum of 20 hours of community service a week and report to police every two weeks until July 27.

Applebaum, 54, was sentenced to one year in jail followed by two years’ probation at the end of March after being previously found guilty on eight charges, including fraud against the government, conspiracy to commit fraud, breach of trust and conspiracy to commit breach of trust.

He was convicted of pocketing about $37,000 in kickbacks linked to two development projects — one for a student residence and another for an aquatic centre — in the city’s largest borough when he served as the local mayor.

The testimony centred on the word of developers who paid the bribes and of a former aide, Hugo Tremblay, who testified he accepted the amounts on Applebaum’s behalf.

Applebaum did not testify at his trial or sentencing hearing, but told the judge after sentencing he would respect her ruling and strive to be a model inmate.

To the parole board, Applebaum explained he’d taken cash for political fundraising but didn’t pocket any money himself.

“You explained you are taking responsibility for your offences in the sense that you have accepted donations in cash during fundraising campaigns,” the report said. “You specify you did not benefit from this money personally and that it was the party that received it.

“Moreover, you are able to recognize that it was illegal, no matter the beneficiary.”

The report noted that Applebaum’s probation officer said the former politician jumped between bitterness toward Tremblay and repentance and sadness for having broken his oath of office and bringing shame to his family.

Applebaum told the parole board he hopes to return home and find employment.

He hasn’t made much money in recent years, finding it difficult to work due to the notoriety of his case. He still owes hefty lawyer fees, the report states.

The parole board report noted that Applebaum took part in zootherapy and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings during his time in provincial jail, even though he does not have a drinking problem.

The board also took into consideration that Applebaum presents a low risk to reoffend and showed remorse.

“You express regret, especially in connection with the perception that the population has of politicians in general, and of you in particular,” the report said. “You should have respected your oath of office.”

Applebaum, a municipal politician for nearly two decades, served as interim Montreal mayor between November 2012 and June 2013, when he was arrested by the province’s anti-corruption unit.

He told the board he has no plans to return to public life.

In May, the city announced it would go to court in a bid to recoup a bonus he received when he stepped down.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

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