Suspicions of fictitious employment: Jean-Christophe Lagarde (UDI) and his mother-in-law tried in October
New blow for the boss of the UDI Jean-Christophe Lagarde, defeated in the last legislative elections in his stronghold of Seine-Saint-Denis: he will have to appear on October 3 before the Paris criminal court with his mother-in-law, to have him granted a fictitious job as a parliamentary assistant.
Mr. Lagarde, 54, will be tried for embezzlement of public funds, while Monique Escolier-Lavail, the mother of his wife, will appear for concealment of embezzlement of public funds, said Thursday the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF), requested by the AFP.
Ms. Escolier-Lavail was employed at the National Assembly between May 2009 and August 2010, according to Liberation.
“We formally contest the suspicions expressed against Jean-Christophe Lagarde by the national financial prosecutor’s office, after an investigation which was neither impartial nor contradictory”, reacted Mr. Lagarde’s lawyer, Mr. Yvon Goutal.
“Unlike other national politicians, Jean-Christophe Lagarde was unable to benefit from an investigating judge, whose mission is to investigate for and against,” he denounced.
“The evolution of the procedure will finally give us access to magistrates before whom we can prove the innocence of my client”, added Me Goutal.
The PNF had opened a preliminary investigation in October 2017 after the complaint of an opposition municipal councilor, Hacène Chibane. In this complaint, he wondered about the activity of parliamentary assistant of the wife of Mr. Lagarde, Aude Lavail-Lagarde, between 2002 and 2014.
Ms. Lavail-Lagarde had resigned from her post in the National Assembly in 2014 after a centrist activist accused Mr. Lagarde of employing her illegally.
In his complaint, Mr. Chibane also claimed that Mr. Lagarde, mayor of Drancy (Seine-Saint-Denis) from 2001 to 2017, “simultaneously employed several other collaborators for his parliamentary activities” who were “simultaneously collaborators in the mayor’s cabinet and employees by the municipality”, according to him.
The hearing before the criminal court on October 3 only concerns Jean-Christophe Lagarde and his mother-in-law Monique Escolier-Lavail.
During the investigation, the home of the Lagarde couple and the town hall of Drancy had been searched in February 2019.
– Assistant to his wife –
Jean-Christophe Lagarde, president of the UDI (Union of Democrats and Independents) since 2014, seized the historically communist town of Drancy in 2001.
He had to resign to comply with the law on the non-accumulation of mandates during his re-election to the legislative elections of June 2017.
His wife, Aude Lavail-Lagarde, then took over as head of this city of around 70,000 inhabitants. She was re-elected in 2020.
After twenty years of reign and four terms at the head of the fifth constituency of Seine-Saint-Denis (2002-2022), he was beaten in the last legislative elections by the Insoumise Raquel Garrido (Nupes).
He nevertheless retains a local mandate: on July 14 he was elected 11th deputy mayor of Drancy, one of the best paid positions according to a document consulted by AFP. This election was contested for the second time before the administrative court.
In practice, he remains very present in municipal life, in particular as a councilor in charge of coordinating neighborhood councils. He occupies the ground to the point that some Dranceans always give him “Mr. Mayor”.
From a legal point of view, he is targeted with a police officer stationed in Drancy by a complaint from a journalist from Le Point for “breach of trust” following a false article published at the end of June implicating the couple of MPs LFI Raquel Garrido and Alexis Corbière. Charges that the former MP refutes. This article is also the subject of an investigation in Paris for fraud.
In March 2021, Mr. Lagarde was taken into police custody after the discovery of several weapons at his home by the police, called for a family dispute.
In addition, the financial prosecutor’s office is investigating suspicions of irregular jobs at the town hall of Bobigny, when it was managed by the UDI, the party of Mr. Lagarde.
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