MONTREAL — The Crown has dropped its fraud case against a former construction tycoon in Quebec and four co-accused following a nine-year legal battle.
Prosecutor François Blanchette told a Quebec court judge Thursday he wouldn't be able to meet the court's deadline to release the Crown's evidence against Tony Accurso and four other defendants.
The ex-construction magnate was accused of having helped organize a scheme with entrepreneur Francesco Bruno and accountant Francesco Fiorino to bribe Revenue Canada agents Adriano Furgiuele and Antonio Girardi with about $250,000 in order to avoid paying tax.
Quebec court Judge Mélanie Hébert had ordered the prosecution to divulge evidence involving 600 boxes of documents seized by the Canada Revenue Agency 12 years ago.
But Blanchette told the judge his office couldn't meet the deadline imposed by a 2016 Supreme Court of Canada decision that capped the length of trials.
In 2018, Accurso received a four-year prison term after being convicted on fraud and corruption charges in what a Quebec court judge called one of the worst examples of municipal corruption to come before a Canadian court. He was released from prison after serving one week, however, pending an appeal.
In October 2020, Accurso and several companies tied to him were ordered to pay $4.2 million after pleading guilty to tax fraud. Accurso had pleaded guilty to making false tax declarations between 2006 and 2010 and was fined almost $2 million.
Blanchette told the court Thursday there are simply too many documents in the case, and his office doesn't have the resources to analyze them in time.
"We came to the conclusion that, unfortunately for us, for the state, we could not continue the proceedings in this case," he said.
"We must act like officers of the law and put our emotions aside and do what we think is the best thing in the case ... and act fairly for the litigants."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 9, 2021.
The Canadian Press