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Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum resigns, asserts innocence

TORONTO (JTA) — Michael Applebaum, the interim mayor of Montreal, resigned amid corruption allegations.

Applebaum, 50, announced Tuesday that he was stepping down after being charged with 14 counts of fraud, breach of trust and corruption.

“I maintain my innocence,” Applebaum said at City Hall in his first comments since the arrest. “I have every intention of continuing to fight like I always have, and I want to be clear: I have never taken a penny from anybody.”

Applebaum, a veteran city councillor who became Montreal’s first Jewish mayor last November, was arrested Monday at his home by Quebec’s anti-corruption squad. He is accused of being involved in a scheme involving two real estate deals that occurred between 2006 and 2011 and “tens of thousands of dollars” in bribes, according to police.

Applebaum, whose predecessor also stepped down amid corruption allegations, was released from police custody on Monday and won’t make his first court appearance until Oct. 9.

“Being mayor of Montreal is not something that one can do while defending oneself against accusations of this nature,” he told reporters. “I’m going to put my energies into my defense and my family.”

Also arrested Monday was former City Councillor Saulie Zajdel, who also is Jewish. He was charged with five offenses, including fraud, corruption and breach of trust.

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