Targeted since the summer of 2021 by an investigation for embezzlement of public funds and embezzlement (embezzlement in the exercise of a public function), the mayor of Cholet, Gilles Bourdouleix, was taken into custody at the police station of Angers, Tuesday January 11. The director general of services and the deputy director general of the city of Cholet also had to undergo interrogation and police custody. All three came out thirty-six hours later, Wednesday evening, without any indictment being pronounced.
During this time, investigators from the Angers regional judicial police service carried out new searches at Cholet town hall. The seconds after those operated in the middle of summer, August 18, 2021, when the Council of State had just, a month earlier, annulled the result of the municipal elections (in question, a second-round alliance which had not been made in the rules in spring 2020 between two lists opposed to that of the outgoing mayor). Mr. Bourdouleix was then targeted by three preliminary investigations for the aforementioned offenses but also for falsification of administrative documents and favoritism.
Partly prescribed facts
The investigation which motivated these custody concerns the amount of compensation for elected officials of the majority of Mr. Bourdouleix (the elected opposition do not touch any). According to the Anticor association, which sent a report to justice in June 2021, the mayor, his deputies and delegated municipal councilors exceeded the envelope authorized since 2008.
Prescription requires, only compensation paid since 2014 can be the subject of legal proceedings. Based on article 432-15 of the penal code, the association estimates the damage at 1.3 million euros over the period 2014-2020 and at more than 3 million if we go back to 2008. It adds that the mayor’s overpayment has stood at more than 58,000 euros since 2017 (his compensation had been increased at the end of his term as deputy, abandoned due to the law on the non-accumulation of mandates) and calculated that the overpayment paid to elected members of his majority amounted, until July 2021, to 18,477 euros each month.
“If the concussion is proven, the illegal taking of interests, the offense of forgery and use of forgery, there could be an obligation to reimburse the sums collected and penalties of ineligibility pronounced”, explained the prosecutor of the Republic of Angers, Eric Bouillard, in August 2021. Wednesday evening, the latter indicated that the investigations had to continue and that it would be necessary “Still a few weeks” before justice decides on a possible reference in correctional of the first city councilor and, perhaps, of some of his assistants.
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