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Expensive meals dominate Quebec fraud trial

Expensive meals dominate Quebec fraud trialJocelyn Dupuis arrives to testify at the Charbonneau commission in Montreal on Oct.31, 2013. A former Quebec construction union boss has pleaded not guilty to charges relating to the alleged fraud of tens of thousands of dollars in inflated expenses. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

MONTREAL - Some eye-catching food and alcohol bills were tabled Tuesday at the trial of a former Quebec union boss who is charged with the alleged fraud of tens of thousands of dollars.

One bill entered into evidence at Jocelyn Dupuis's trial was for a $3,300 meal as he attended a union meeting in the United States.

Additional bills on the same trip to California and Las Vegas showed Dupuis had another meal that cost upwards of $2,500 and two more that went for about $1,000 each.

In those four cases, he had the proper paperwork from the establishments, which authorities said meant he actually spent those amounts.

The charges against Dupuis relate to alleged offences between December 2007 and November 2008, a period in which he filed 43 expense accounts totalling $225,000.

Dupuis is the former executive with the Quebec Federation of Labour's construction wing, having served as director-general from 1997 to 2008.

Other documents filed in court Tuesday showed Dupuis filed expenses of $1,500 for a meal on a Sunday in December when the construction wing was officially on holiday.

That sum included two bottles of wine that each cost nearly $300.

Provincial police investigators dug up the official receipt: $1,125, including the wine.

Police have identified 144 bills they say could represent more than $63,000 in fake or inflated invoices.

A police accountant testified that her examination of alleged wrongdoing focused only on the 144 documents, which came from six Montreal restaurants. The overall evidence against Dupuis includes documentation from elsewhere in the province.

The trial began with Dupuis pleading not guilty to fraud and fabricating false documents.

Dupuis also allegedly ran up $7,000 in expenses in one particular week — $4,600 in restaurant meals, $1,800 in hotels and $510 for 1,400 kilometres worth of mileage, even though there is no evidence he ever left Montreal during those seven days.

No additional documentation was required to claim the automobile expenses.

The Crown's first witness was Rolland Brillon, a union accountant, who said Dupuis was the only employee to give him handwritten receipts because he didn't use a union-issue credit card.

Brillon said he signed off on the expenses. The money used to reimburse Dupuis was from union dues from its membership.

Brillon said the file on Dupuis disappeared at one point. After that, all expenses filed by the accused were accompanied by official receipts, although in some cases they consisted only of bar tabs at a golf course.

A calligraphy expert testified it was Dupuis' handwriting that appeared on the documents.

Also on Tuesday, Quebec court Judge Denis Lavergne agreed to hive off a third charge Dupuis is facing into a separate trial.

Dupuis will be tried on one count of inciting another person to file fake documents.

The current trial is expected to last the rest of this week.

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