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Airey-Wilson Granted AR

By Jenna Carlesso

October 21, 2010

Hartford city Councilwoman Veronica Airey-Wilson, one of several people ensnared in the corruption investigation into former Mayor Eddie Perez, was granted a special form of probation Thursday.

Judge Julia Dewey granted Airey-Wilson accelerated rehabilitation, a type of probation that would allow her record to be expunged if successfully completed. Airey-Wilson, who was charged with tampering with physical evidence, will be on probation for three months.

The judge also ordered that Airey-Wilson make a $420 charitable contribution to the state Victims' Restitution Fund. Prosecutors said that amount was what the city councilwoman owed for a granite countertop installed at her Hartford home.

Airey-Wilson, a Republican, was accused of tampering with evidence to show that she paid for the installation, even though the work was done for free, according to previous testimony from Carlos Costa, the central figure in the Perez corruption investigation.

Perez was convicted of using his influence at city hall to get discounted work by Costa at his Bloomfield Avenue home, and sentenced to three years in prison.

While interviewing Airey-Wilson in 2008, investigators from the Chief State's Attorney's Office learned that Costa, a city contractor, had also performed work at her home. She later produced what investigators believed to be a fabricated proof of payment.

During testimony at Perez's trial in May, Costa said he installed the countertop in Airey-Wilson's butler's pantry at her request. He said he didn't intend to charge her.

At the hearing Thursday, the judge asked Airey-Wilson what her biggest regret was in the matter.

Airey-Wilson said she "may have been a little na´ve" in choosing a city contractor to perform the renovations.

"I'm so open and trusting of everyone. I didn't recognize the flaws," she said.

Airey-Wilson said she has suffered public humiliation since her arrest in September 2009. The most difficult part, she said, was the idea that "the community really believed .. the charge, that I would ever do something wrong."

"It took a toll on myself and my family," she said.

Dewey pointed out that there were "many layers of culpability" in the city hall corruption investigation, and said Airey-Wilson was not "at the core of what I consider the most culpable conduct."

But, Dewey said, "This certainly was a lapse."

"It was almost like the 20 years you [worked for the city] would have been down the drain for one stupid granite countertop," the judge said.

Steven Seligman, Airey-Wilson's attorney, said Airey-Wilson will continue to serve on the city council during her probationary period.

"For someone who has lead a life like Veronica Airey-Wilson has, this is a tough thing to weather," Seligman said. "She feels it."

Reprinted with permission of the CityLine blog of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the CityLine at http://blogs.courant.com/cityline/ and the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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