"I did what Michael Applebaum said to do."He said it was his job to collect the kickbacks — tens of thousands of dollars' worth — and divide the cash according to Applebaum's instructions.
Years later, after Applebaum had climbed the political ladder to the Montreal mayor's office, Tremblay said he received a call from investigators.
'In order to charge you, [they] got to see the money,' ex-mayor Michael Applebaum says in recording.
The court heard that after some initial resistance, the former aide eventually agreed to help police with their investigation.
Under cross-examination, Tremblay admitted that he used the extra cash for extravagant vacations. He also admitted to using cocaine two or three times a year.
"Did I go out more often when I became single at 30 with a stack of cash? Yes," he said.
Defence lawyer Pierre Teasdale also suggested, through his line of questioning, that Tremblay had something to gain by co-operating with police.
"You, in your mind, did you have reasonable expectations … after everything you did for police, that they would try to charge you?" Teasdale asked in court.
"Reasonably, no," Tremblay answered.
Tremblay has never been charged in this case.
Robert Stein: The 'sucker'
Robert Stein took over his family's real estate management business at age 24, after his father died. He said he was extorted and sucked into a world of corruption. (Radio-Canada)
When Robert Stein was 24 years old, his father died and he was left in charge of the family's real estate management business, the court heard.
Stein testified that he wanted to rebuild his family's reputation after his father's legacy was tarnished by his involvement in investments with Tony Magi, a Montreal businessman with known links to organized crime.
But Stein said he was sucked into the world of corruption.
"I was bullied, extorted," he testified.
He compared his first sit-down meeting with Applebaum to an episode of the Sopranos.
Stein said Applebaum told him "elections aren't cheap" and asked if he'd be willing to buy tickets to a political fundraiser.
"Every single person has their hand out, on one project, on this first project I've ever developed," he said.The court heard that Stein ended up paying a total of $60,000 to bureaucrats, including Applebaum's right-hand man Tremblay, to ensure he'd get approved for a real estate development on de Troie Avenue. The project was never completed.
Talk with ex-mayor Michael Applebaum felt like Sopranos episode, court hears.
Stein said he gave the cash to his business partner, Anthony Keeler, who delivered it to the right people.
He said Keeler, who was like a mentor, once spent some of the kickback cash on his own lifestyle, so Stein had to pay him twice.
When the defence attorney asked Stein why he never made Keeler repay him, Stein answered:
"I'm a sucker … I don't like confrontation."
Tony Keeler: The mentor with a code
Retired mortgage consultant Anthony Keeler told the court that when anti-corruption investigators knocked on his door in the spring of 2013, he knew 'the jig is up.' (Radio-Canada)
Retired mortgage consultant Anthony Keeler said Stein, whom he called Robbie, was "like my son."
He said that when anti-corruption investigators came knocking on his door, he could tell the jig was up.
"The minute they left, I called Robbie, I said, 'Puts your pants on, come over' … I told him, 'You gotta get a lawyer.'"
"We had a code, I guess you'd call it," Keeler testified.Keeler explained to the court how he used to arrange cash drop-offs with Tremblay.
"He'd call and say, 'Can we have lunch tomorrow?' and if I had the money, I would say yes."
He told the court that in exchange for a promise of roughly $35,000 in kickbacks, his real estate project was approved by the zoning committee.
Final witness never saw Applebaum receive cash
He admitted, however, that he never saw the cash actually being handed to Applebaum.
Patrice Laporte: The engineer with envelopes of cash
Engineer Patrice Laporte told the court he handed over envelopes of cash to Michael Applebaum's right-hand man, Hugo Tremblay, in Starbucks cafés and McDonald's restaurants. (Radio-Canada)
Engineer Patrice Laporte told the Quebec court how he ferried thousands of dollars in cash to pay off Applebaum's right-hand man, to guarantee his firm would win a municipal contract.
Laporte, a former executive at SOGEP - a subsidiary of the Montreal-based engineering firm Dessau - said his firm made a bid for the management and maintenance contract for the NDG Sports Centre in 2010.
Cash-stuffed envelopes traded for NDG Sports Centre contract, engineer testifies.
A few weeks later, he said, Tremblay phoned him and said if they didn't offer some extra cash, they could lose the contract.
"We were a bit discouraged," Laporte said.
'We'd grab a coffee, we'd chat.… Then I'd pass him an envelope.'
- Patrice Laporte, engineer.
He told the court his boss decided they would pay $25,000 extra in exchange for the contract, which was worth more than $1 million a year.
Laporte said he met Tremblay several times at Starbucks cafés and McDonald's restaurants to exchange the cash.
"We'd grab a coffee, we'd chat.… Then I'd pass him an envelope," Laporte said.
During the defence lawyer's cross-examination, Laporte clarified that he never collaborated directly with Applebaum.
"Me, I had nothing to do with Mr. Applebaum," he testified.
IN DEPTH | 'No paper trail' in Michael Applebaum's corruption trial means focus is on key witness's testimony.
Applebaum declined to testify in his own defence.
His lawyer is expected to make his closing arguments on Monday.
The people of NDG have waited a long time for Michael Applebaum's trial.
MICHAEL APPLEBAUM - WE ARE WITNESSES TO HIS HISTORY
MICHAEL APPLEBAUM - WE ARE WITNESSES TO HIS HISTORY
While Michael Applebaum was mayor of the Borough of NDG.CDN, citizens confronted him accusing him of conflict of interest. He was head of the zoning committee while also advertising himself as a real estate agent for Royal LePage. Applebaum and his friend Marvin Rotrand were outraged that we dared to question him. We were threatened. Rotrand said he would throw us out of the (public) meeting. I wonder what role Marvin Rotrand may have played in Michael's "business". Solly Zajdel and Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay's brother also supported Michael against us.