By Rhonda Massad
April 7, 2015, is the date set for the preliminary inquiry for former mayor of Laval Gilles Vaillancourt and 36 other individuals arrested by UPAC in its Projet Honorer case.All the defendants, aside from the engineer Robert Cloutier, who died last winter, were present at the April 30 hearing to set a timeframe for the inquiry. Among them, construction moguls Tony Accurso and Anthony Mergl, former Laval city manager Claude Asselin and former city engineering director Claude Deguise.The two months allocated for the inquiry will allow the defense to evaluate the evidence presented and hear from witnesses such as Asselin’s successor as Laval city manager Gaétan Turbide and retired engineer Roger Desbois of the engineering firm Tecsult.The defendants face charges of conspiracy, fraud, breach of trust and corruption. Vaillancourt himself faces a dozen fraud-related charges, including two counts of organized crime.On Nov. 9, 2012, Vaillancourt resigned as mayor and denied all of the corruption allegations against him after the Sûreté du Québec raided more than ten safety deposit boxes allegedly rented by Vaillancourt at various financial institutions.The defense counsel also chose the option of a trial by judge and jury, but reserved the right to ask to change the upcoming hearing to a trial by judge alone at the end of the investigation. The court and the Crown were ready to begin the preliminary investigation in January 2015, but various schedule conflicts among the thirty defense lawyers involved in the trial led the judge to postpone until April.