Expenses of ex-FTQ construction boss under microscope

Spent thousands on restaurant meals

The trial of the former head of the construction arm of the province's largest labour union began today with an inside look at certain questionable expenses he submitted between 2007 and 2008.

Ex-director general of FTQ-Construction Jocelyn Dupuis was arrested in March 2010 on charges of fraud, false billing and inciting someone to commit a crime.

Dupuis is accused of claiming dubious expenses, notably restaurant expenses upwards of $225,000, betwen December 2007 and November 2008.

Judge Denis Lavergne this morning agreed to a joint request by the crown and defence to hold a separate trial on the third charge, likely to be held next year.

Dupuis, sitting in the front row of the courtroom, shook his head as crown prosecutor Jacques Dagenais laid out the case against him: alleging there were no expenses officially on the books for tens of thousands of dollars of meals and other expenses and in some cases, expenses that were inflated by as much as $400.

Dagenais said they retraced expenses to restaurants across the province including six main ones in Montreal and Laval.

He said they zeroed in on 42 expense reports totalling $225,000, with Dupuis spending an average $5200 on meals.

Dagenais said they have an abundant amount of documentation including bills and credit card receipts.

The crown's first witness was Rolland Brillon, an accountant for FTQ-Construction, who explained how he approved Dupuis' numerous restaurant receipts and expense reports.

They included a $1500 meal at Old Montreal steakhouse Gibby's that included two $300 bottles of Palmer 99 wine; a $950 meal at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas; and a $3000 meal at a Hollywood, California restaurant. Most of the meals involved two or three FTQ colleagues from the union executive, their names handwritten on the bills and receipts.

Among the other expenses the crown focussed on: $1000 worth of km driven in California, 100's of km travelled in Montreal alone in one week, and a breakfast at Hawgs Deli in St. Leonard that averages $9 that was expensed at $400.

When asked repeatedly if he ever questioned the expenses or sought authorization, Brillon said no, adding there was no official policy to justify or cap expenses.

Brillon testified he trusted the expense reports and the people who submitted them, adding he just made sure the numbers matched and added up.

Upon cross examination, Brillon testified that his boss was Dupuis and when he was asked to do something, he did it.

Dupuis sat with his arms folded across his chest throughout most of the trial, often smiling and looking confident and relaxed.

The trial is expected to last three days.

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