Grand Jury In Hartford Government Probe Gets Extension
By JEFFREY B. COHEN And DANIEL E. GOREN | Courant Staff Writers
May 07, 2008
The state criminal grand jury investigating allegations of corruption in the administration of Mayor Eddie A. Perez has been granted more time to continue its work.
A person familiar with the investigation says the grand jury, which was originally set in motion by a court order Oct. 24, has been granted an extension to look into allegations at city hall. By statute, this second term of the grand jury can last no more than six months.
On Tuesday, the grand jury continued to hear testimony as city officials and other witnesses appeared in the halls of Superior Court in New Britain, awaiting their turn behind the third-floor courtroom door with the papered-over window.
State criminal investigators have been interested since at least February 2007 in a no-bid parking deal between the city and North End political figure Abraham L. Giles. But their interest in Perez has not been limited to Giles and parking lots.
Last summer, state investigators served a search warrant on the mayor's house as they looked into $20,000 worth of home improvement work done for the mayor by city contractor Carlos Costa. State investigators have also asked the city for and received documents related to payments for its $1 billion school construction program.
A state investigatory grand jury is appointed by a panel of three judges and gives the state the power to compel testimony. The panel typically appoints a single judge to be the investigatory grand juror and hear all witnesses.
State statute allows the panel to approve an investigatory grand jury requested by the state if it finds, among other things, that "other normal investigative procedures with respect to the alleged crime have been tried and have failed or reasonably appear to be unlikely to succeed if tried."
Among the city officials in court Tuesday were Lillian Ruiz, the city's director of human relations; Santiago Malave, the city's director of human resources; and James Kopencey, executive director of the city's parking authority.
City Corporation Counsel John Rose Jr. has said publicly that "dozens of people from the city have been called to testify." Rose and other city officials did not respond to an e-mail asking how much money the city has spent on attorneys' fees for its employees since the grand jury began.
Sarah Barr, Perez's spokeswoman, did not return a call for comment. Neither did Perez's attorney, Hubert Santos.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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