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Four former top Quebec cops face fraud charges

Four former top Quebec cops face fraud chargesA Quebec provincial police cruiser is pictured October 12, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

MONTREAL - The former head of the Quebec provincial police force and three other former senior officers have been ordered to appear in court next month on charges of fraud, theft and breach of trust.

Charges filed in Montreal on Tuesday name Richard Deschenes, the force's former director-general, former assistant director Steven Chabot, Alfred Tremblay, a former assistant director of investigations, and Jean Audette, another ex-assistant director in charge of investigations.

All four have been summoned to appear in court on Feb. 13. The date for the appearance was noted in the charges.

The group is charged with fraud and breach of trust in the performance of their duties and stealing more than $5,000 from the Quebec government and the provincial police force.

The charges say the acts allegedly committed by Deschenes, Chabot and Tremblay were committed on or around March 17, 2010, while those allegedly committed by Audette happened between Oct. 27, 2011, and Oct. 15, 2012.

Deschenes stepped down unexpectedly and was replaced in October 2012 by Mario Laprise.

Laprise, who was named by the newly elected Parti Quebecois government, issued a statement Tuesday after the charges were made public.

He said the force has instituted measures to review management policies and rules governing expenses.

"All the actions that have been taken in connection with this event have been adopted in the spirit of maintaining the highest standards of integrity within the organization and to retain the public's confidence in their institution," the director-general said.

"Every day, our 7,700 officers and civilian members pursue their mission of service to the public guided by these standards," Laprise said.

According to published reports, the four officers used money from a fund that included money for criminal investigations.

The provincial police news release also said the force will not issue any other comments on the nature of the charges out of the respect for the different legal proceedings that are currently underway.

Jean-Claude Hebert, the lawyer for Chabot, said in an interview that he would not comment on the charges because he doesn't have much information.

"All we know is the name of the accused (and) the charges, but the proof has not yet been divulged," he said. "I'm waiting for the disclosure of the proof and if there are things to say, we'll say them in the courtroom."

Hebert added his first step will be to determine what kind of trial will take place — whether it will by judge and jury or by judge alone.

When contacted by telephone, a secretary for Deschenes' lawyer said he was not granting any interviews.

The Crown prosecutor's office confirmed the charges in a news release.

It also pointed out that in December 2012, Quebec Public Security Minister Stephane Bergeron ordered an internal inquiry, which led to the creation of a special team of investigators.

Crown spokesman Jean Pascal Boucher says the accusations were laid after "an analysis of all the proof and detailed work" which was carried out during the investigation.

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