Former Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt pleads guilty to fraud, gangsterism charges dropped

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WATCH ABOVE: Former Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt has pleaded guilty to charges of fraud, breach of trust and conspiracy. Global's Gloria Henriquez reports – Dec 1, 2016

Former Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt has pleaded guilty to charges of fraud, breach of trust and conspiracy between 1996 – 2010.

“I deeply regret the mistakes and mostly the pain imposed on my family, friends and citizens of Laval,” he told the court.

“I feel great pain and this will likely be with me until I die. I excuse myself sincerely.”

Vaillancourt was arrested by Quebec’s anti-corruption squad in May 2013 after serving 23 years as the city’s mayor, from 1989 to 2012.

The 75-year-old arrived at the Laval courthouse shortly after 8 a.m. Thursday, simply telling journalists “you can surely guess” when asked for a comment.

READ MORE: Laval mayor promises to crack down on corruption

The Crown and the defence agreed on a six year prison sentence, minus the time he has already served; prosecutors have asked for Vaillancourt to be incarcerated immediately.

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The gangsterism charges have been dropped.

He will have to reimburse $9 million, including $5.23 million from a Swiss bank account and the City of Laval will take possession of his $1 million condo.

About $1.7 million has already been given to Quebec authorities.

“I achieved great things, but my mistakes are unacceptable,” Vaillancourt told the court.

“I want to serve my sentence as soon as possible so I can become an active member of society once again.”

Vaillancourt was arrested along with 37 other people during a police operation at his home, condo, offices and bank safety-deposit boxes as part of a series of raids on numerous engineering firms and businesses.

Former Laval director general Claude Asselin and former engineering director Claude Deguise will also appear in court.

READ MORE: Quebec corruption inquiry ends after 30 months of public hearings

Police said the former mayor and a number of construction bosses worked together to fix the awarding of public contracts in Laval for years.

Vaillancourt had originally faced 12 charges of gangsterism, conspiracy, fraud, breach of trust, bribery, favouritism, corruption and collusion.

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Sentencing will take place Thursday, Dec. 15 at 2 p.m.

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