The city of Hartford has paid roughly $95,000 to cover legal expenses incurred in connection with the state's criminal investigation into allegations of corruption in the administration of Mayor Eddie A. Perez.
Records from law firms and the city provided to The Courant following a state Freedom of Information request show that the city has covered legal expenses for 22 current and former city employees. The bills provided by the city cover from early 2008 through May.
There were no bills for Mayor Eddie A. Perez, who is represented by the firm Santos and Seeley. But there were bills for attorneys representing his finance director, Thomas Morrison ($13,350), his chief of staff, Matt Hennessy ($10,510), and Corporation Counsel John Rose ($10,443).
The city also paid bills for other employees in its finance, human relations, public works, and development offices. Finally, it paid $2,638 for legal representation for state Rep. Kelvin Roldan, who used to work for the mayor and now works for the school system.
Hennessy, Rose, Roldan and others were represented by the firm Rome McGuigan; Deputy Corporation Counsel Carl Nasto and others were represented by Day Pitney. Hourly rates, when provided on billing invoices, ranged from $200 an hour to $450 an hour.
The grand jury was set in motion by a court order Oct. 24, 2007, and has since been granted an extension. By statute, this second term of the grand jury can last no more than six months.
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. 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."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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