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Helen Ubiñas: Eddie Perez Uses I Am The Victim Defense

Helen Ubiñas

April 14, 2010

It's only the third day of jury selection in the bribery and larceny trial of Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez, but already I sense a theme in the mayor's defense.

Poor Eddie.

El Jefe, his defense team's questions suggest, is a victim.

Of people who threw a good guy under the bus to save their own skins. (Never mind the 49 pages of arrest warrants.)

Of a big, bad media outlet that just wanted to exaggerate misdeeds to sell papers. (Considering how few jurors said they even read a newspaper, I'm not sure how well that's going to play.)

And even if Perez told investigators that he paid for the deeply discounted work on his home before rushing out to actually pay up — well geez, folks, haven't you ever had a friend who lied before thinking better of their deception and coming clean?

Poor, poor, misunderstood Eddie.

Actually, the person who's gotten the most sympathy in court this week is Perez's loyal wife, Maria.

First there was the Rev. Cornell Lewis, who stomped into court Monday and pushed past a confused-looking Trude Mero to make a show of throwing his arm around Maria. Awkward.

And then Tuesday, there was Perez supporter Phil Knecht, who teared up when talking about the mayor's wife.

"She's a strong gal," Knecht said, before reminding me that she's been sick. "But this is hard."

Knecht seemed like a sincere fellow, so I didn't have the heart to tell him that, of course, I knew.

Maria's illness was one of the many excuses the mayor used to explain his belated payment for those discounted renovations.

Poor, poor Eddie.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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