The town of Hudson’s former director general Louise Léger-Villandré was sentenced to 30 months in prison during a Quebec Court hearing Monday morning in Valleyfield.
In December, Léger-Villandré, now 66, pleaded guilty to six of 19 criminal charges she faced, including charges involving more than $1 million that went missing from town hall coffers between 1996 and 2013.
She appeared before Judge Michel Mercier Monday morning for about 20 minutes. A red suitcase with her belongings was brought into the courtroom moments before she was whisked away to begin serving her sentence.
Léger-Villandré, who appeared calm and collected as she waited for her sentencing to be formalized, didn’t make a statement before the judge.
Crown prosecutor Mathieu Longpré and defence lawyer Robert La Haye had agreed to recommend a 30-month sentence.
Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, La Haye said his client had been aware of the recommendation of a 30-month sentence heading into the hearing. She has recognized she broke the criminal code, the defence lawyer said. He added she is remorseful and pointed out that she isn’t a member of a criminal organization like the Mafia.
“She accepted the evidence and she decided to plead guilty as soon as possible,” he said, adding he doesn’t know what motivated his client to defraud the town or how she spent the $1 million. “The answer is, ‘I don’t know,’ ” he said, noting the case covers a 17-year period.
“There’s no money in the bank,” La Haye said.
Léger-Villandré filed for bankruptcy as permitted by law, he added.
When questioned, La Haye acknowledged Léger-Villandré could apply for parole in five months, after serving a sixth of her sentence.
Longpré said based on jurisprudence, the 30-month sentence is appropriate.
“We looked at the amount of fraud, the age of Madame Léger-Villandré, as well as other criteria of the law,” he told reporters.
“It’s a jail term for that type of offence,” he later added.
It’s unclear where the misappropriated $1 million went, and with Léger-Villandré declaring personal bankruptcy, none of the missing town funds have been recovered or reimbursed, Longpré acknowledged.
“There is no proof of where the money went following the investigation into the file,” he said. “There was an examination done on her capability of reimbursing the money and it’s not possible for Léger-Villandré.”
Longpré said he was informed that Léger-Villandré is still receiving her pension from the town following her retirement in 2013.
La Haye said the pension money is a civil matter that doesn’t involve this criminal case.
Léger-Villandré was arrested in October 2014 following an investigation by the province’s anti-corruption squad, UPAC. She was charged with 19 counts related to fraud and breach of trust, and creating and using false documents between 1996 and 2013. She was accused, as Hudson’s director general, of having cashed municipal cheques totalling more than $1 million through her personal bank account.
In December, she pleaded guilty to one count of fraud, one count of breach of trust and four counts of using forged documents.
In addition to being director general, Léger-Villandré also once held the positions of town clerk and treasurer over the four decades she worked at town hall.
“She was occupying three jobs (at town hall) that were permitting her to have no one check over her what she was doing,” Longpré said of Léger-Villandré’s positions with Hudson.
Unrelated to the fraud charges, Revenue Quebec officials executed a court order last year to seize some of Léger-Villandré’s property, including a vehicle and furniture, since she owed the province about $307,000 in unpaid taxes following a review of income tax returns made between 2008 and 2012. In 2014, Revenue Quebec had obtained a lien on her real-estate holdings, including a house in Hudson.