Opinion

A hard pill to swallow

Louise Léger-Villandré, you have plead guilty to six of the 19 charges brought against you by the Crown; charges of fraud and breach of trust and of falsifying documents. You perpetrated these crimes while in your role as the highest level employee in the Town of Hudson, your home town. At your sentencing hearing, the judge will likely be lenient given your age, no prior criminal convictions and the low probability of reoffending (what organization would give you a job with access to money?) or maybe not.

Nevertheless, if you prove to be a model prisoner, which is likely, you might be released after serving only part of your sentence. You will have been deemed "rehabilitated" and set free to re-integrate into society. People might say, "justice has been served" but has it?

Perhaps you think because yours was a white collar crime that was victimless, but from my point of view, you victimized the 5092 citizens of Hudson. Countless hours have been lost and taxpayers' money has been, and continues to be, spent untangling the mess you left behind. The results of your actions will linger for years to come. The money that you misappropriated could and should have been invested in the town's infrastructure and community. Residents will be required to pay more taxes. Former mayors, town councillors, employees, volunteers and all the dedicated souls who trusted you have had their reputations questioned simply by association.

You damaged all that they had accomplished. You undermined public confidence in elected officials and the administration, and the confidence of voters is not easily won back. You shattered many relationships, some going back decades. You have threatened the very existence and legitimacy of the town. How can any length of incarceration possibly compensate for these transgressions?

As a first-time councillor, I was very proud to serve the residents of Hudson. I held you in high regard as did many others; after all, you had dedicated 43 years of your working career to the town and your knowledge of municipal regulations and procedures was considered second to none. By exploiting our trust and confidence, your deeds have managed to destroy any further motivation that I have to serve in public office.

A fraud is a deliberate action meant to deceive. It is an action hidden from view and when it is perpetrated by someone who is so well-respected in the community, the wounds run so much deeper.

Today may be a vindication of sorts, an indication that we did the right thing by informing the authorities of our suspicions, that justice usually does prevail. Hopefully, our unique and special town can start to heal and move in a more positive direction.

Diane Piacente

Former Town Councillor and Interim Mayor 2009-2013

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