Will the harassment charges against legislative candidate (and cop) Hector Robles hold up?
By Adam Bulger
August 28, 2008
Hartford police officer Hector Robles just came one large step closer to fulfilling his political dreams. On Tuesday, Aug. 12, he clinched the Democratic nomination for the state representative seat vacated by Art Feltman.
Robles lost a primary race to Feltman in 2004, but things look much brighter for him in this contest. Just as in his first race, he has Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez in his corner, and he's running without a Republican challenger.
However, Robles is not entirely in the clear. Several harassment allegations may come back to haunt him. Shortly before the August primary, Lillian Arciniegas, a volunteer for Robles' primary opponent Carmen Sierra, filed a complaint with the Hartford Police Department, claiming that police officers acting on behalf of Robles were intimidating staffers at Sierra's campaign office.
"There was a cop coming in all the time asking questions," Arciniegas said. "He asked, 'How are you doing?' — which is fine — but also asking if people were busy and what they were working on. He stood there for 15 minutes asking questions."
In a later meeting, Hartford Police Chief Daryl Roberts told Arciniegas that Robles didn't know the officer in question. Arciniegas said the volunteer staff still found the visits odd and irritating.
"He came back in the past couple of days. He said he wanted to eat a sandwich, and he was just annoying us," Arciniegas said.
In addition, Arciniegas said she and other campaign volunteers saw Robles outside the campaign headquarters.
The allegations, which Robles dismissed in a public statement as a close-to-the-deadline smear campaign, were reported in several media outlets in early August. Roberts addressed them in a press statement released Aug. 8, in which he announced he had ordered an internal affairs investigation. (Neither Robles nor the Hartford Police Department responded to requests for comment for this story.)
In addition to the complaint, Arciniegas also filed a Freedom of Information Act request for all complaints filed against Robles, who has been with the Hartford Police Department for more than 10 years. She said she received paperwork for a number of investigations into complaints against Robles. The investigations had either fizzled out or exonerated him. But one complaint she expected to find was missing.
In 2005, the Hartford Advocate investigated a claim by Lourdes Santos, who was a neighbor of Robles at the time. Santos alleged that Robles threatened her teenage son because Robles believed the 14-year-old had romantic interests in the officer's stepdaughter.
In an interview, the boy told the Advocate Robles pulled up in his police cruiser and directed a barrage of curse words at him. Later, when Santos's boyfriend, Edwin Quiles, confronted Robles, Quiles was arrested, charged and convicted for trespassing, despite his protestations of innocence. (Santos, who is believed to have moved from the city, could not be reached for comment.)
Curiously, the complaints from those incidents were not in the first package Arciniegas received. According to Arciniegas, the police said they withheld that information. She did, however, receive the complaint in a second FOIA request, two weeks after the primary election was over.