Court fines Lugassy following conviction of electoral fraud, maybe more charges to come

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Following the conviction of Charles Lugassy of electoral fraud for his actions in the 2009 municipal elections the Quebec court has handed down a fine of $1000 and has stripped Lugassy of the right to vote in elections for a period of five years.  Furthermore, Lugassy is also forbidden from running as a candidate in an election, also for five years.

The courts have clearly ruled this case as a serious offence.  Such a condemnation had previously been unheard of in Cote Saint-Luc politics.

And more legal actions are still pending against Lugassy.  The Director General of Elections has scheduled a hearing on April 30, 2013 concerning Lugassy’s electoral expenses in the 2009 elections.

Self-proclaimed Sephardi candidate guilty of fraud

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Canadian Jewish News
Janice Arnold, Staff Reporter

MONTREAL — A defeated candidate in the last Côte St. Luc municipal election who claimed to represent the Sephardi community says he is considering appealing a court decision that found him guilty of offering a financial inducement to an opponent, also Sephardi, to drop out of the race.

Quebec Court Judge Johanne White last month found Charles (Chalom) Lugassy violated municipal election law by offering to reimburse the electoral expenses of Sonia Cohen-Peillon if she withdrew from the campaign for the November 2009 election.

Such an act is fraudulent, White wrote.

Lugassy faces losing his right to vote or to seek elected office for five years. He may also be fined up to $1,000.

The charge against Lugassy, who was trying to unseat incumbent Glenn Nashen in District 6, was brought by the Quebec Director-General of Elections.

Cohen-Peillon testified that less than two weeks before the 2009 vote, Lugassy urged her to step aside, saying that, if she did, “we are going to pay you your costs.” She refused.

Her testimony was corroborated by her sister, Michèle Cohen, who told the court that Lugassy also approached her with a similar proposition to relay to her sister.

Lugassy categorically denied that he or anyone among his supporters offered Cohen-Peillon any such inducement, saying it would make no sense, because she was never a serious contender.

Nashen, a longtime councillor, was easily re-elected, with Lugassy garnering about half as many votes, and Cohen-Peillon well behind in third place.

The court heard that a meeting of about 10 leaders of the Côte St. Luc Sephardi community took place at a synagogue on Oct. 19, 2009, where Lugassy and Cohen-Peillon were invited to present their platforms.

Lugassy said there has never been francophone Sephardi representation on the city council, and the leaders of the community, which he estimates now accounts for 40 per cent of Côte St. Luc’s population, did not want to split the vote by having two Sephardi candidates in the same district.

Lugassy claims he was the choice of the Sephardi leaders. Cohen-Peillon, sensing that this was indeed true, declined to go along and continued her campaign.

She testified that on Oct. 18, 2009, she received a phone call from a prominent woman in the Sephardi community who said that Sephardim would not vote for a woman.

White wrote in her 26-page judgment that she found credible the testimonies of Cohen-Peillon and her witnesses, especially her sister, Michèle Cohen, now a member of the Montreal police department’s ethics commission.

The judge dismissed Lugassy’s version of events as “implausible, riddled with outlandish conjectures and not in the least supported by proof.”

Lugassy told The CJN that he thinks that White “completely erred in her judgment.”

His sentencing was set for Nov. 19.

He affirmed, however, that his bid for a seat was motivated by his belief that there should be francophone Sephardi representation on the eight-member city council.

Lugassy charged that anglophone Ashkenazim are jealously guarding a monopoly on power at city hall and that since the last election, there has been a campaign to discredit him for fear that he would run again in 2013 – successfully.

He noted that after the 2009 vote, the city’s director-general of elections issued five notices of infractions, against him. He admitted to one charge – overspending on his campaign by a small amount – while three others were dropped, he said.

The fifth infraction was the allegation that he tried to induce Cohen-Peillon to drop out.

Lugassy filed a written complaint in 2010 with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs that it was a conflict of interest for the city clerk to act as director-general of elections.

Jonathan Shecter was, in effect, an employee answerable to the council, Lugassy said, even though he took a leave to serve as director-general of elections.

Lugassy insists that, even before the Quebec Court ruling, he had no intention of running in the next election, set for November 2013.

Dida Berku, a councillor for 22 years, denied there is any attempt to block Sephardim or any other group from municipal power. She reiterated that “there is no conspiracy or closed shop in Côte St. Luc, nor did we push the director-general to file the complaint.

“All candidates are welcome to run and, in fact, there have been a few Sephardi candidates over the past years.”

She added that it is difficult for anyone to defeat an incumbent.

“Running for council requires a long-term commitment and involvement in civic affairs. It is not just about a short campaign.”

Mayor Anthony Housefather limited his comments on the matter to an emailed response: “I think the judgment speaks for itself. It is about a candidate who was not elected to city council and his actions that were judged to be in violation of Quebec electoral law.

“The city has nothing whatsoever to do with this, and I see nothing I would add, as I have no personal knowledge with respect to any of the issues raised in the judgment.”

 

 

2012-11-22 CJN Lugassy guilty of fraud

 

Lugassy found guilty of electoral fraud – Coupable de fraude électorale dans Côte-Saint-Luc

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(En FR plus bas)

La Presse has reported that Mr. Charles Lugassy, a candidate for election in Cote Saint-Luc, District 6, in the 2009 municipal elections, was accused by the Director General of Elections of attempting to convince another candidate, Ms. Sonia Cohen-Peillon, to withdraw her candidacy by promising her an “advantage” (ie. to pay her election expenses).

On October 16, 2012, Judge Johanne White, of the Court of Quebec, declared Lugassy guilty of the offence.

An infraction of being declared guilty of a Corrupt Electoral Practice does not carry a prison term (paragraph 57 of the Judgment) but can carry the following penalties:

  • Not being allowed to be an electoral candidate or vote in an election for a period of five years
  • a Fine of $1,000-$10,000

Sentencing is scheduled for November 19, 2012.

The interesting and in depth judgement is available here.

In 26 pages it outlines a plan one might suspect in dark corridors of the Capitol, but never in the suburban tranquility of peaceful Cote Saint-Luc. It details the events preceding the November 1, 2009 election whereby attempts were made to discourage Mme. Sonia Cohen-Peillon from running as a candidate and ultimately that a corrupt electoral practice took place.

The judge heard that the Sephardic community held a meeting to discuss which of the two Sephardic candidates would run in District 6, against me, the incumbent candidate.  In this meeting, Cote Saint-Luc resident, and a former candidate for election in the municipality states that the Sephardic community would not vote for a woman.

These secret meetings are quite disturbing and many Cote Saint-Lucers that I’ve spoken with, Sephardic and Ashkenazi, Jewish and Christian, religious and secular, French-speaking and English-speaking have told me that country of birth and language spoken at home make no difference in selecting a city councillor.

This is the position that I stated in the last election when Lugassy launched a divisive and disturbing campaign portraying me as not Jewish (obviously not true and rather insulting) and negating the fact that I am married to a Sephardic woman and that my children are both Ashkenazi and Sephardi, the same as many, many Cote Saint-Luc families.

Council is about making decisions for all residents, regardless of language or country of origin.  Garbage pickup, snow removal, parks, security and all civic services are about the best services at the lowest price to taxpayers.  Period.

This judgement exposes decades-old thinking that does not speak to the future of our city.  It uncovers disrespectful and divisive arguments that do not reflect the majority of voters.  Each Cote Saint-Lucer can decide for themselves how they wish to be organized municipally, and make their own choice on who best represents their interests.

More:

Shocking allegation

* * *

La Presse a constaté que M. Charles Lugassy, candidat à l’élection municipal de 2009 a Côte-Saint-Luc, en district 6, a été accusé par le Directeur général des élections de tenter de convaincre un autre candidat, Mme Sonia Cohen-Peillon, de retirer sa candidature en lui promettant un «avantage» (ex. à-payer ses dépenses électorales).

Le 16 octobre 2012, le juge Johanne White, de la Cour du Québec, a déclaré Lugassy coupable de l’infraction.

Une infraction après avoir été déclaré coupable d’une manœuvre électorale frauduleuse ne porte pas une peine d’emprisonnement (paragraphe 57 du jugement), mais peuvent causer des sanctions suivantes:

- N’étant pas autorisé à être un candidat aux élections ou de voter à une élection pour une période de cinq ans.

- Une amende de 1,000 $ – 10,000 $

- Détermination de la peine sera le 19 novembre 2012.

Le jugement est disponible ici.

Le jugement présente un plan qu’on pourrait le croire dans les couloirs sombres du Capitole, mais jamais dans la tranquillité de la banlieue paisible de Côte-Saint-Luc. Il décrit en détail les événements qui ont précédé les élections de 2009 où on a tenté de dissuader Mme. Sonia Cohen-Peillon de se présenter comme candidat et, finalement, une manœuvre électorale frauduleuse a eu lieu.

Le juge a entendu que la communauté sépharade a tenu une réunion pour déterminer lequel des deux candidats séfarades irait dans le district 6, contre moi. Lors de cette réunion, une résidente, et une ancienne candidate à l’élection dans la municipalité affirme que la communauté sépharade ne vote jamais pour une femme.

Ces réunions secrètes sont assez troublantes et beaucoup de Côte-Saint-Luçois dont j’ai parlé, séfarades et ashkénazes, juifs et chrétiens, religieux et laïcs, de langue française et de langue anglaise m’ont dit que le pays de naissance et la langue parlée à la maison ne font aucune différence dans le choix d’un conseiller municipal.

C’est la position que j’ai eu à la dernière élection où M. Lugassy a lancé une campagne de division et troublante me présentant comme non-juive (évidemment pas vrai et plutôt insultant) et la négation du fait que je suis marié à une femme séfarade et que mes enfants sont à la fois ashkénaze et séfarade, comme beaucoup, beaucoup des familles de Côte-Saint-Luc.

Le Conseil a pour but de rendre des décisions pour tous les résidents, quelle que soit la langue ou le pays d’origine. Ramassage des ordures, le déneigement, les parcs, la sécurité et les services municipaux de meilleurs services au plus bas prix pour les contribuables. Période.

Ce jugement expose une ancienne vision qui ne représente pas l’avenir de notre ville. Il découvre des arguments irrespectueux et de division qui ne reflètent pas la majorité des électeurs. Chaque Côte-Saint- Luçois peuvent décider eux-mêmes comment ils veulent être organisés au niveau municipal, et de faire leur propre choix de la personne qui représente le mieux leurs intérêts.

En savoir plus:

 Shocking allegation

Electoral fraud in Cote Saint-Luc

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La Presse is reporting on illegal activities in the 2009 municipal elections that resulted in a guilty verdict against District 6 candidate Charles Lugassy.

Read the La Presse report here.

Check back soon for more details and comment.

Lugassy cited, Nashen and Cohen-Peillon respond

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Click to enlarge:

CSL candidate to plead not guilty to DGE infractions

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Suburban, February 29, 2012

Click the image above to enlarge

In my opinion:  Of course, it is the Director General of Elections who chooses to investigate, and may charge, any candidate standing for election in Quebec. This has nothing to do with the municipal council as Mr. Lugassy incorrectly alleges.  

Mr. Lugassy’s continued attacks and divisive arguments will not distract me from faithfully representing all constituents in District 6 and throughout Cote Saint-Luc.

Shocking Allegation: Lugassy offered money to Cohen-Peillon to drop out of race

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Shocking developments in the aftermath of last November’s municipal elections in Cote Saint-Luc:  Former candidate Sonia Cohen-Peillon has accused her opponent Charles Lugassy of offering her cash to drop out of the race and throw her support behind him.

Cohen-Peillon has filed a complaint against Lugassy with the Quebec Director General of Elections and an investigation has been launched.

Lugassy has also filed a report of election expenses in excess of the legal limit set by Quebec law.  Sanctions, such as a fine and prohibition on running for an election for five years, may be decided by a judge acting on behalf of Quebec.

Other complaints have been filed against Lugassy and at least two other investigations have begun.

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