|Elio Pagliarulo. (TVA)
MONTREAL - Bribes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, kidnapping and a safe so full of cash it couldn't close -- the testimony at Quebec's corruption inquiry on Monday was as shocking as it was damning.
Monday's testimony from two witnesses offered some of the most serious and concrete accusations heard so far at the inquiry on corruption in Quebec's construction industry.
The day's first witness was Elio Pagliarulo, the owner of a pastry company and former business partner of Quebec construction entrepreneur, Paolo Catania.
Pagliarulo said Catania had him kidnapped and beaten in 2009 after their loan-sharking company failed.
Pagliarulo also described how the Rizzuto crime family was heavily involved in the province's construction industry. Moreover, Pagliarulo further incriminated Frank Zampino, the former head of the mayor of Montreal's executive committee, whom Pagliarulo said was corrupt and took bribes.
Pagliarulo said that he personally gave Catania $300,000 in 2006 that Catania told him was destined for Zampino.
Zampino was paid in order for Catania's construction company to secure a land deal in Montreal, according to Pagliarulo.
Provincial police arrested Catania and Zampino in May in the reputed land scam. Both face several charges, including fraud.
Pagliarulo told the commission that Catania and his father, Francesco, forced him to assume the entire loss of over $1 million when their illegal lending company went bankrupt in late 2006.
In 2009, when payments didn't come fast enough, Pagliarulo said he was kidnapped and beaten.
"My face, you couldn't really see who I was (after the beating)," he said. "I had a fractured eye, my nose was broken, my eyes were swollen and my front teeth were broken."
Pagliarulo said he pressed charges against Catania but they were dropped in 2010 because he said prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence.
Paolo Catania is listed as the principal shareholder of several companies in the construction industry, including Les Enterprises CATCAN.
A woman who answered the phone when QMI Agency called the head office of CATCAN wouldn't identify herself. She said Paolo Catania told her that he will not comment on Monday's testimony.
Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay also wouldn't comment on Pagliarulo's testimony. Tremblay told reporters that "even if I wanted to," he couldn't comment on Zampino, because his former top aide was under a criminal investigation.
Tremblay will likely have to answer to a lot more when Monday's second witness finishes testifying.
Martin Dumont, a former political organizer for the mayor's political party, took to the witness stand Monday afternoon after Pagliarulo.
Dumont said that Bernard Trepanier, the former head of financing for the mayor's political party, invited Dumont into his office one evening in the fall of 2004.
Dumont said the door of the safe in Trepanier's office wouldn't close.
"He told me the safe was too full and I had to help him," Dumont said. "There was more money than I had even seen in my life. I saw bills that were red ($50), brown ($100) and rose ($1,000)."
Dumont said he and Trepanier were able to eventually close the safe.
Dumont`s testimony continues Tuesday.