Politics"We thought we were in the nails" ... Five...

“We thought we were in the nails” … Five elected officials condemned for having allocated land to their children

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In La Mézière, a small town of 5,000 inhabitants located north of Rennes, the elected representatives of the former mandate were very generous to their relatives. Five of them, the former mayor, two deputies and two municipal councilors, were tried Monday afternoon before the Rennes criminal court for “illegal taking of interests”, the justice accusing them of having allocated municipal land to their children. The case had erupted in 2015 by a very detailed anonymous letter which denounced irregularities in the allocation of the nine lots making up a municipal subdivision raised from the ground in 2014. After several months of investigations, a search was carried out in 2017 at the mayor and five elected officials placed in police custody.

All present Monday during the hearing, they listened without flinching the president enumerate the many gray areas surrounding the Pré Jouanette subdivision, nicknamed “the elected subdivision” by bad tongues. The purchase price of this land of 2,500 m², sold by an individual to the municipality, first of all questions. One of the plots, the largest, was sold for 35 euros per square meter while the second left for a bite of bread at 5 euros per square meter. “These prices are not in line with those of the market,” said the president, referring to a neighboring plot sold to individuals for 190 euros per square meter. “I did not have the impression of robbing the owner of the land and I did not sign her under pressure,” retorted the former mayor, referring to “a great land opportunity”.

Seven out of nine lots awarded to relatives

If the purchase price was a bargain, the selling price was just as important for future owners with a price per square meter set at 149 euros. “At the same time, another subdivision less well located and more distant from the village emerged from the ground with a higher price per meter”, the president was surprised. “We relied on an old program to set prices but we could have actually increased them,” replied the former mayor.

In addition to the prices, it is above all the identity of the buyers that raise questions in this case. Of the nine lots, five of them were thus sold to the children of the five defendants while two others were sold to a friend of the mayor’s daughter as well as to a former employee of the town hall. “Seven out of nine lots that are awarded to relatives of elected officials, it’s still strange, isn’t it? “Asked the president, also pointing out the lack of publicity around this subdivision and the rather vague award criteria. “We wanted to keep young couples with children in the town,” said the former elected official in charge of town planning.

Conditional prison sentence and ineligibility sentences

Except that in the selected candidates, some did not meet the criteria at all, like that of the son of one of the defendants who lived in Orne. “Why are some cases passed and others not? », Relaunched the president. Summoned with questions, the five defendants all recognized their “recklessness” and their “naivety”, without however recognizing the intentional nature of the offense. “I was not aware at the time of this notion of moral interest,” admitted the former mayor. “With my little brain, I thought we were in the nails,” added one of his former city councilors.

At the end of the hearing, the five elected officials were all found guilty of illegal taking of interests. The former mayor was sentenced to an eight-month suspended prison sentence, five years of ineligibility and a fine of 5,000 euros. His former assistants and municipal councilors have received sentences ranging from two to six months suspended prison sentence and one to four years of ineligibility.

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Janice Thomas
Janice Thomas is a content editor at 24 News Recorder. She has 5 years of journalism experience and she he is a graduate of Wittenberg University and holds a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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