01/28/2014 07:21 EST | Updated 03/30/2014 05:59 EDT

Richard Deschênes among 4 ex-Quebec police officers facing fraud charges

Four former high-ranking members of the Quebec provincial police are facing fraud-related charges, Radio-Canada has learned.

The charges are in connection with the alleged misuse of public funds.

The four accused are:

- Richard Deschênes: General director of the Sureté du Québec from 2008-2012, relieved of his functions after allegations against him emerged.

- Steven Chabot: Associate director of criminal investigations until his retirement in 2010.

- Jean Audette: Associate director of criminal investigations from 2010-2012, who replaced Chabot after his retirement, and was relieved of his duties after allegations against him emerged.

- Alfred Tremblay: First public mention of his name in this affair.

The men allegedly used a $26-million police fund to create a secret retirement fund. The money was meant for extra costs related to police investigations, such as paying informants or covering the cost of drugs in undercover operations.

Chabot files lawsuit

Chabot`s lawyer, Jean-Claude Hébert, confirmed to Radio-Canada that Chabot has been accused of fraud, theft of $5,000 and abuse of confidence.

Chabot has maintained his innocence. 

He responded to the allegations by filing a $1.5-million lawsuit against current SQ general director Mario Laprise.

Chabot says the accusations circulating in the media have destroyed his life.

Internal investigation launched under new leadership

The charges against all four men stem from an internal investigation launched in 2012, not long after the newly elected Parti Québécois government replaced the head of the Sûreté du Québec.

Mario Laprise replaced Deschênes as general director in October 2012. Deschênes had been appointed by the former Liberal government in 2008.

After Laprise took command, a routine check of the books turned up money that wasn't accounted for, sparking the investigation. 

The probe first came to light through media reports in December 2012. At the time, Tremblay was not named among the accused.