From The Gazette

Lachine

Former Lachine civil servant will not have legal fees covered: Court rules

Robert Bourgeois is among a few bureaucrats and politicians involved in legal tangles with the city hoping to have their legal fees covered. But a Quebec Superior Court decision last week closed the door on that possibility for the bureaucrat, who retired in 2002 at age 58 with a $2.4-million pension.

Montreal is suing for $1.2 million, alleging that the agreement Bourgeois signed with Lachine on April 30, 2001, didn’t conform to the merger law that allowed for buyouts of up to 18 months’ salary for surplus municipal administrators such as Bourgeois. The city also says the pension money is not coming out of the Lachine employees’ pension fund, but rather the city’s insurance fund.

Lachine promised Bourgeois one month’s salary per year of employment, so he got a $400,000 buyout package for 23 years of service and a $2.4-million pension. That amount was never authorized by the transition committee, the city contends.

Bourgeois, a lawyer who doubled as a legal adviser and contract negotiator for Lachine, earned $148,000 in base salary, plus about $50,000 in benefits.

Frank Zampino, the former chair of Montreal’s executive committee, sued the city of Montreal this month, saying its refusal to pay his legal fees is unjustified, arbitrary and a flagrant contradiction of past practice.

Zampino, who left his post in 2008 and has been named at the Charbonneau Commission as allegedly accepting cash payments and a $250,000 kitchen renovation from contractors who conducted business with the city, faces charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and breach of trust.

And this week, the Quebec Court of Appeal ruled that taxpayers will foot the bill for lawyers to represent Montreal’s auditor general as he sues the city for the alleged illegal interception of his emails. The money — an estimated $300,000 — will come from Jacques Bergeron’s office budget.

The city estimates Bergeron’s legal fees could mount to $300,000.

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