By Robert Frank
Firefighters raced to Laval’s iconic Chomedey Inn, around 1:30 p.m., Nov. 21, after a blaze broke out in an unoccupied room at the northeast corner of the motel.
They succeeded in containing the fire to the one brick-walled room. Though no one was injured, the room was gutted and the remainder of the building suffered considerable smoke damage from the billowing blaze. Estimates indicate that the cost of restoring the lodging could top $200,000.
A search of Quebec government documents revealed that two separate corporations both claim to operate under the name Auberge Chomedey Inn at the motel’s 590 Labelle Blvd. address: The numbered companies are owned by Gloria Sawaya of Laval and Guevorkian Arkadi of Montreal, respectively.
The motel had until this year been a watering hole for generations of Laval residents.
However, in late July, the Quebec liquor commission abruptly withdrew the owners’ permit to serve alcoholic beverages, after police accused Sawaya’s sons Chadi and Joseph Abi Chdad of using the business to launder money.
Last year, the pair were among 36 people whom police accused of having defrauded innocent debit card users in Quebec and Ontario of nearly $100 million, much of which, police alleged, was funneled overseas.
Police also considered the motel a hotbed of drug trafficking and prostitution. Soon after joining Laval Police in September, newly appointed Chief Pierre Brochet told The Suburban that he intends to drive organized crime out of the city.
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