December 12, 2012
Three top Quebec cops accused of mishandling money
By QMI Agency
MONTREAL — The former head of the Quebec provincial police is among three officers suspected of using a secret fund to pay out a severance bonus.
Former director Richard Deschesnes, who was reassigned Oct. 10, was suspended without pay, Quebec Public Security Minister Stephane Bergeron told a news conference.
"The provincial police cannot give a severance bonus to any of its employees," said the minister.
"This operation could be a breach of trust by a public official, and fraud."
Bergeron didn't say who received the cash bonus but one of the men under suspicion is Steven Chabot, the now-retired former assistant director of criminal investigations at the police force.
Also under investigation is Jean Audette, Chabot's successor, who was suspended without pay along with Deschesnes.
The secret spending account is usually earmarked for operations such as drug transactions by undercover officers.
Bergeron said his department decided to convene a group of civilians, made up of retired police officers, that will work with a Crown prosecutor to investigate the case.
"The alleged facts are extremely troubling," said Bergeron.
"No one, regardless of their rank or their status, is above the law."
The minister said the case also highlighted the urgency of moving ahead with a civilian oversight bureau to investigate alleged police wrongdoing.
The government has tabled a bill aimed at creating the civilian agency.
The scandal revealed Wednesday is the latest to hit Quebec's public service.
A public inquiry has heard reports of collusion between the Mafia, bureaucrats and construction contractors.