MONTREAL â€” Former Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum was sentenced to one year in jail on corruption-related charges Thursday, eliciting a promise from the disgraced ex-politician he will emerge a better man.
He also received two years’ probation and only when he’d been handcuffed did Applebaum finally address the court, something he didn’t do at his trial.
He told Quebec court Judge Louise Provost he would respect her ruling and strive to be a model inmate.
“I’ll reflect on what I’ve done in the past,” said Applebaum, 54. “I will also reflect on what I will do in the future.
“I guarantee, guarantee that I will be a model prisoner. I will be a good person and I will do what I have to do.”
He also thanked his “remarkable” family.
“One day, when I get out … I will make a life for my family and when I say that, I mean that I will put food on the table.”
The charges stemmed from two separate deals between 2007 and 2010 when Applebaum was mayor of the city’s largest borough â€” one for a student residence and another for an aquatic centre.
His criminal case centred on the testimony of a former aide, Hugo Tremblay, who said the longtime local politician introduced him to illicit fundraising.
During the trial, Tremblay testified he led developers and businessmen to believe their projects would be delayed or not approved unless they made a supplemental cash contribution.
The court heard the total amount sought for the two projects was $60,000, which Tremblay testified was then split with Applebaum, who was found guilty of pocketing about $37,000 in kickbacks, through Tremblay, from developers and engineering firms.
The prosecution had sought a two-year prison sentence followed by two years’ probation after his conviction in January on eight charges.
Defence lawyer Pierre Teasdale had countered with a recommendation of either a suspended sentence or a mixed sentence that could include probation, community work and non-consecutive jail time.
Provost said jurisprudence ruled out both suggestions.
She also noted there was no remorse or any evidence presented that showed Applebaum accepted his actions or explained the motivations behind them.
“The court considers that the accused will probably not be able to hold an elected position in the future, thereby reducing the risk of recidivism,” Provost said. “But the crime is serious because it has an element of corruption. This reprehensible behaviour violates the fundamental values of our society.”
Teasdale told reporters the sentence was “in accordance with what we might have expected.”
Asked whether his client had expected to be sent to jail, he replied, “He had been warned (that possibility) wasn’t to be excluded.”
Prosecutor Nathalie Kleber said she was satisfied.
“This is the message that has been sent: that corruption can’t work anymore and that there’s consequences to corruption,” she said.
Applebaum served as interim mayor of Montreal between November 2012 and June 2013, when he was arrested.
Witnesses at his sentencing hearing said Applebaum has endured tremendous hardship, struggling with his physical and mental health while unable to hold down a real-estate job because of the notoriety surrounding his case.
Still, Applebaum vowed to do more good deeds once his sentence is complete.
Teasdale confirmed in late February there would be no appeal of the conviction.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press