A former deputy director of the Sûreté du Québec on trial for fraud was acquitted of every charge he faced Monday, bringing to an end a lengthy trial that spanned nearly two years.
Jean Audette, 57, was on trial for allegedly using a secret SQ fund to hide payments made to a consultant who was barred from working for the provincial government. In all, Audette faced five charges of fraud, breach of trust, theft, and use of a forged document.
The fund in question, the trial heard, is supposed to be used by the SQ to pay for the services and expenses of informants in organized crime investigations.
During closing arguments in early January, the Crown had argued that by using the fund, Audette was able to sidestep the checks and balances normally used to ensure taxpayer money is being spent properly.
The defence, for its part, argued the rules that governed the secret fund were broad and open to interpretation.
On Monday, Quebec Court Judge Thierry Nadon ruled Audette “acted in the public interest and in the interest of the SQ.”
“It is essential to remember the accused never received anything, directly or indirectly, be it financially, professionally or personally, from the alleged acts,” Nadon wrote in his 37-page judgment.
Audette was charged in 2014. The trial began in March 2016 and ran over the course of a least 40 non-consecutive court dates.
Read the original story over at the Montreal Gazette.