Judge Rejects Hartford Mayor's Bid To Have Bribery Charges Dismissed
JEFFREY B. COHEN
June 10, 2009
A state judge denied Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez's motion to dismiss the charges against him Tuesday morning, telling his attorney that he had not met his burden of proof.
Hubert J. Santos, Perez's attorney, argued at Superior Court in Hartford that the state's arrest warrant for Perez on bribery and other charges made a "very close call in terms of probable cause." Santos also said that there was no "nexus" between the benefit that Perez received at his home and the benefits received by the city contractor who worked on the mayor's home. Santos said there was no real claim "of a corrupt agreement."
But Judge Julia Dewey disagreed and said that Santos had the law wrong. There need not be a defined corrupt agreement, Dewey said. She said such a deal "could be implied. It doesn't have to be explicit."
"I don't think you've met your burden of proof," Dewey said, before denying the motion. "It will go to trial based upon this affidavit."
Jury selection is scheduled to begin the week after Labor Day; a trial is tentatively scheduled for mid-October.
"I don't anticipate this is going to be a long trial," Dewey said.
Perez was the subject of a rare, secret state investigatory grand jury for 18 months. State criminal investigators have been looking into allegations of corruption at city hall for two years.
In January, Perez and city contractor Carlos Costa were arrested on bribery and other charges related to allegedly discounted work done on Perez's kitchen and bathroom. Prosecutors in January promised more arrests, but none has occurred. The grand juror in the case has until early July to complete his work.
Costa, who charged Perez about $20,000 for what Costa said was $40,000 worth of work, said he never expected to get paid; Perez has said he always intended to pay, although he didn't do so until investigators began their work. At the time, Costa was working on a multimillion-dollar contract to remake Park Street — and was seriously behind in his work.
Both men have pleaded not guilty.
In his argument Tuesday, Santos told Dewey that the arrest warrant affidavit didn't stand up.
"This was not a clear case of probable cause," Santos said. He also said that prosecutors left out crucial testimony that, if included, would have made a successful arrest warrant more difficult.
"This has an element of prosecutorial misconduct," Santos said.
In his argument, state prosecutor Christopher Alexy took exception to that claim. He also added a new twist: Besides kitchen and bathroom work at the Perez home, the state says Costa did work for Perez "upstairs."
Asked about the "upstairs" comment, Santos said he didn't know what Alexy was talking about.
Alexy reminded Dewey that two judges — the one who signed the arrest warrant, and the grand juror — had found probable cause.
Now, add Dewey.
Perez declined to comment. Santos told reporters that this was just an "opening salvo."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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