ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. - A former manager of the ill-fated Algo Centre Mall accused its owner of being an unethical, slave-driving employer and sleazy landlord, a public inquiry heard Friday.

In her letter of resignation displayed at the inquiry, Henri Laroue laid out numerous grounds for quitting May 3, 2011, one year before the mall's roof caved in killing two women.

Among them, Laroue complained she was on call 24 hours a day and, despite being called in regularly, received no extra money.

"When I spoke to you ... that I am sometimes working 60 hours per week yet I am in trouble if I am one day late, you advised that you could make me work 90 hours per week," she wrote in the letter.

"If I am sick one day, this day's pay is deducted from my pay."

In response, Bob Nazarian, on his fourth day testifying into the mall's collapse last summer, said his former employee was dishonest.

Laroue, who testified without a lawyer in May, also accused him in her letter of ordering her to break into a tenant's store to change the locks.

Nazarian, 68, of Richmond Hill, Ont., played fast and loose with safety rules, she said.

He ordered her to leave the hotel unstaffed at night — which would be illegal — and told her to ignore orders to comply with the fire code because they had taken enough of her time.

"This is very disheartening to realize your priorities do not include a safe work environment," she wrote.

Nazarian defended himself as an honourable businessman who never did anything illegal.

He did concede to commission counsel Peter Doody that he did not comply with fire regulations for years.

Efforts to stop the mall roof from leaking had failed, Nazarian explained, so any new fireproofing would have washed away again.

Nazarian said his company was in financial straits, in part because mall tenants were leaving or refusing to pay rent over the appalling conditions.

"We were trying to cut corner, it was management decision," Nazarian said, his voice rising.

"Fire department, every day, was sneaking into the mall, with permission or without permission, finding an excuse, giving us an order, 'Do it or else'."

Nazarian later pleaded guilty to fire code infractions and paid a fine.

As was the case throughout his testimony, Nazarian clashed frequently with Doody Friday, prompting him at one point to appeal to Commissioner Paul Belanger for a time out.

"I have a severe headache. I cannot take this kind of harassment from Mr. Doody," he said.

Nazarian told his own lawyer Michael Title in cross-examination that he was never told about the mall's problems when he bought it from Elliot Lake Retirement Living in August 2005.

A structural engineering report from May 1999 done for Retirement Living that noted "corrosion of steel beams" was never given to Nazarian, he said, nor was the recommended remedial work done.

In earlier testimony, Nazarian made the startling admission he did have money to fix the roof, but opted to buy another property because the mall was a financial "black hole" that was "doomed" from the outset.

While some in town called for Nazarian to be charged criminally, others were more measured.

As she sat on the wooden inquiry room bench Friday, resident Elaine Miller said it was a "touchy situation" because the disaster was 30 years in the making.

"We have said: 'Some day it'll come down,'" Miller said.

"Yet we all continued to go, we all continued to bring our children there."

Nazarian faces further cross-examination, starting Monday.

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  • Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, left, greets people of the community of Elliot lake after speaking at a press conference regarding the rescue and recovery of two bodies at the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ont., on Wednesday, June 27, 2012, after the mall's roof collapse last Saturday. During his address to a small crowd of rescue workers and local officials, McGuinty said his thoughts were with the family of the two female victims, whom he identified as Dolores and Lucie.

  • The Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ontario, remains unstable as efforts continue on Wednesday, June 27, 2012, after the mall's roof collapse last Saturday. Officials recovered two bodies after dismantling a piece of a partially collapsed Ontario shopping mall on Wednesday and said they are confident no other victims are inside. The renewed rescue effort came after angry residents shouted down fears that the unstable structure made the work too risky to continue.

  • Firefighters, left, carry a second body out of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada, on Wednesday, June 27, 2012, after the mall's roof collapsed last Saturday. Officials recovered two bodies after dismantling a partially collapsed Ontario mall on Wednesday and said they don

  • Rescue workers remove their hard hats as firefighters carry a second body out of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ont., on Wednesday, June 27, 2012, after the mall's roof collapsed last Saturday.

  • Local residents react to the news that rescue workers have recovered a body at the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ont., on Wednesday, June 27, 2012, after the mall's roof collapse last Saturday.

  • Rescue workers wait to access the wreckage of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ont., early Wednesday, June 27, 2012, as cranes remove debris caused by the mall's roof collapsed last Saturday.

  • Rescue workers watch as a demolition crane tears into part of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ontario on Tuesday June 26, 2012. The controlled demolition on Tuesday night was part of a renewed bid to rescue any survivors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

  • A monument stands at a road entrance as a demolition crane tears into the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ontario on Tuesday June 26, 2012. Rescue workers are attempting an new plan to search for survivors after the mall's roof collapsed last Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

  • A by-stander reacts as a demolition crane tears into part of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ontario on Tuesday June 26, 2012. Residents of Elliot Lake, Ontario watched tensely as a massive robotic arm dismantled the facade of a mall that collapsed over the weekend, trapping at least two people inside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

  • Rescue workers watches a demolition crane as it tears into the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ontario on Tuesday June 26, 2012. Rescue workers are attempting an new plan to search for survivors after the mall's roof collapsed last Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

  • A rescue workers watches as a demolition crane as it tears into part of the Algo Centre Mall, in Elliot Lake, Ontario on Tuesday June 26, 2012. Rescue crews began dismantling a partially collapsed mall late Tuesday night in this northern Ontario city in an effort to rescue victims despite fading hopes of finding anyone alive. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

  • Local residents react to the news that authorities have called off a rescue bid for any survivors at the site of the collapsed roof of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ontario, on Monday June 25, 2012 as the site is deemed to dangerous.

  • OPP officers inspect the damage from the roof as rescue workers continue attempts to secure the building before searching for any survivors at the site of the collapsed roof of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ont. on Monday June 25, 2012.

  • Local residents react to the news that authorities have called off a rescue bid for any survivors at the site of the collapsed roof of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ontario, on Monday June 25, 2012 as the site is deemed to dangerous.

  • Missing victim Lucie Aylwin's father Rajean Aylwin (centre left) and boyfriend Gary Gendrom (right) react to the news that authorities have called off a rescue bid for any survivors at the site of the collapsed roof of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ontario, on Monday June 25, 2012 as the site is deemed to dangerous.

  • A rescue worker walks towards the emergency staging post as attempts continue to secure the building before searching for any survivors at the site of the collapsed roof of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ontario on Monday June 25, 2012.

  • Local residents react to the news that authorities have called off a rescue bid for any survivors at the site of the collapsed roof of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ontario, on Monday June 25, 2012 as the site is deemed too dangerous.

  • Police form a line outside the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ontario on Monday June 25, 2012. According to some residents a large number of miners are due to arrive from Timmins to join a locally planned rescue effort. Officials in Elliot Lake, Ont., say they are resuming rescue efforts at a partially collapsed mall after an appeal from Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.

  • Police officers talk in front of a emergency services tent next to the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ontario on Sunday June 24, 2012.

  • A man leans on a columns next to the collapsed roof of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ont. on Saturday June 23, 2012.

  • A man leans on a column next to the collapsed roof at the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ont. on Saturday June 23, 2012.

  • A teddy bear with a handwritten note is seen near the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ont. on Sunday June 24, 2012.

  • A woman checks out the damage after a roof collapsed at the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ont., Saturday, June 23, 2012. The partial collapse prompted a local state of emergency and a search for anyone who might have been injured in the cave-in.

  • The roof parking lot of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ont. is shown on Saturday June 23, 2012.

  • The collapsed roof of the Algo Centre Mall is seen from a nearby hill in Elliot Lake, Ont. on Sunday June 24, 2012.

  • <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLsIqo5aKr8&feature=player_embedded" target="_hplink">Source: YouTube</a>

  • <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLsIqo5aKr8&feature=player_embedded" target="_hplink">Source: YouTube</a>

  • Heavy equipment is used in stabilization and rescue efforts at the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ont. on Sunday June 24, 2012.

  • Elliot Lake -- once an Ontario mining hub -- is located about 160 kilometres west of Sudbury.