City council asks Sudbury police to investigate bribery allegation

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City councillors have asked Greater Sudbury police to investigate whether one of their colleagues was offered a bribe prior to a key vote on a new events centre four years ago.


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Ward Coun. 8 Al Sizer, who introduced the motion Tuesday asking for an investigation, said he is concerned Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier may have been bribed to vote in favour of the Kingsway Entertainment District.

In addition to calling into question the legitimacy of the vote on June 27, 2017, Sizer said such allegations taint the reputation of council and city hall.

“The allegations are serious in nature and could result in criminal charges should an investigation find such charges are supported by the evidence,” his motion read. “Be it resolved council for the City of Greater Sudbury requests the chief of police for the Greater Sudbury Police Service to investigate.”

Sizer asked that the results of the investigation be presented to council.

“This is for the citizens,” he told his peers. “It is very disconcerting that businesses in the community would stoop to that level and engage in that type of activity. Our citizens deserve an investigation.”

Council voted unanimously to have the police service investigate the matter. It did so even though Montpellier has walked back his allegations from a previous interview with The Star.

The popular Ward 3 councillor sparked the latest controversy over the KED – and Sizer’s motion – when he published an open letter on his Facebook page. In it, he alleged representatives for Dario Zulich, the developer behind the Kingsway Entertainment District, and Gateway Casinos approached him before the events centre vote in an effort to sway his decision over where to locate the centre.


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Montpellier alleged in the letter the two people approached him multiple times, offering him financial incentives to vote in favour of the KED.

“Being familiar with my business involvement and participation with Ontario and Michigan casinos, both suggested opportunity to personally profit by supporting the Kingsway location,” he said.

Montpellier said he had no choice but to declare “a financial conflict of interest, (so) I did not vote on the locations.”

In interviews with The Star, however, Montpellier gave differing accounts on whether he believed he was offered a bribe.

During the first interview, Montpellier suggested he had been bribed.

“I was told you’ll have steady work and blah, blah, blah, and that’s financial gain,” he told The Star in August.

According to the Ward 3 councillor, he was told, “Oh geez Gerry, if we’re at The Kingsway we’re going to build this track and that and this, and you’re going to have guaranteed employment as an announcer and there’ll be promotional opportunities, to promote car shows and different races.”

He said he was shocked when he was approached.

“I said, ‘are you kidding me? I’m a city councillor. You’re asking me to support something because it’ll benefit my business?’” he said.

During a second interview with The Star, Montpellier said he had not been bribed.

“They weren’t trying to bribe me,” he said. “They were just saying, ‘your business will increase’. What is the definition of a bribe? Some people watch too many late movies and they see somebody in a trench coat handing over an envelope. That’s their idea of a bribe.


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“Had I been stupid enough to vote for either one of them (the locations), we never would have heard the end of it.”

Montpellier did abstain from voting on June 27, 2017, the night council voted to locate the events centre on The Kingsway.

First, council voted on a downtown location, but that was lost in a 6-6 tie.

Next, council voted on The Kingsway location. The vote was 10-2, with Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti and Ward 10 Coun. Fern Cormier voting against the KED.

The events centre, expected to cost more than $100 million, will be paid for by city taxpayers and would replace the aging Sudbury arena located downtown.

The KED is also supposed to include a new casino that Gateway is to build.

The KED decision has been a controversial one and has survived challenges filed in court and to the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal.

Montpellier said he declared his conflict of interest, with an explanation, on that fateful night four years ago and he said he told his colleagues repeatedly he had been approached with promises of fiduciary benefit.

“I declare a conflict of interest as I have done twice before regarding this subject,” Montpellier said during the 2017 meeting. “For full transparency, I will elaborate on my reasons for declaring a conflict of interest. Due to my full-time, motorsport entertainment business, this decision, either way, will affect my outside-of-council, professional and financial situation.”

Montpellier told The Star in August he did not vote in 2017 “because I have morals. I could not have voted for something and then taken the job afterwards.”


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In an earlier interview, Robert Mitchell, a spokesperson for Gateway Casinos, called Montpellier’s allegations absurd.

“(The employee Montpellier identified) left Gateway approximately two years ago; however, I worked with him the entire time he was at Gateway,” Mitchell wrote to The Star. “What Mr. Montpellier suggests is ridiculous and untrue.

“May I remind you this is the same man who claimed to have a letter written by me that he failed to produce after repeated requests, and has never responded to a single email or phone call from me when I pursued the matter? What he is alleging is absolute nonsense. You shouldn’t write the story.”

The Star contacted Zulich multiple times for comment when Montpellier first released his letter. He did not respond.

Montpellier said during Tuesday’s council meeting he looks forward to a police investigation.

“I’m going to be supporting this 100 per cent,” he said. “I’m kind of happy we’re finally going to an outside branch, as I’m getting fed up with being investigated internally.”

That was a reference to the fact the city hired a third-party firm to investigate Montpellier in 2017 during the municipality’s failed and bitterly contested fire optimization project. Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini, as well as two private citizens, were also investigated.

In February 2018, Vagnini was exonerated but Montpellier was found guilty of using the term empire-builder.

Earlier this year, Robert Swayze, the city’s integrity commissioner, investigated Montpellier after Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland filed a complaint.

Swayze recommended the councillor’s salary be suspended for 60 days; however, council chose to reprimand him instead.

In July, Swayze made the same recommendation for a new complaint. Again, council ignored his recommendation, opting instead to reprimand the feisty councillor.
Twitter: @marykkeown
Facebook: @mkkeown

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