Real estate manager recounts clandestine interactions with Michael Applebaum

In the ongoing trial of former Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum, a real estate manager told a Quebec court of his covert transactions with the then-borough mayor of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.
 
Robert Stein, testifying in connection with his participation in one of the two projects being investigated in the trial, attested that he received a call from Applebaum around two weeks after the Urban Consultation Committee’s approval of the demolition of a decrepit apartment building on de Troie Avenue, and the conversion of this property into new condominiums.
 
The approval process pushed through despite some opposition from the borough, which held that the former owner was a delinquent landlord and thus should be penalized for wholesale neglect of the apartment (instead of being rewarded).
 
Stein further testified that in the phone call, Applebaum asked if Stein and his business partner Anthony Keeler would be available to meet in person to supposedly discuss social housing in the borough, CBC News reported.
 
“This was the best day of my life ... I'm getting phone calls from the mayor of the biggest borough of Montreal,” Stein recalled.
 
The manager’s jubilation soon turned to disappointment, however, once Stein was allegedly asked by Applebaum if he still conducts business with Toni Magi, a Montreal businessman with known Mafia ties.
 
“Mr. Magi doesn't have the best reputation in this city. It wasn't a name I thought would come up in casual conversation from an elected official,” Stein told the court.
 
Right after the former mayor’s question, the consultation quickly degenerated into a political fundraising meeting, in which Applebaum allegedly said, “Elections are very expensive,” or “Elections aren't cheap.”
 
“It was a lot to swallow in a 20 to 30-minute period,” Stein testified, noting that the then-mayor asked him to deliver $50,000 in cash via his aide at that time.
 
Later in 2007, Applebaum allegedly told Stein that he needs to make a “political contribution” worth $35,000 if the latter wanted the condo project to proceed.
 
“A kickback, I guess, would be the definition. I would call it extortion. Some would call it a bribe,” Stein said.

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