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Perez Seeks New Trial, Acquittal

Lawyers: Court Erred In Consolidating Two Cases Against Him

By JENNA CARLESSO

July 07, 2010

Attorneys for former Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez filed two motions Tuesday requesting a new trial and asking that Perez be acquitted of all charges on which he was convicted, including bribery and extortion.

The motions set the stage for an appeal expected to be filed after Perez is sentenced Sept. 10. A jury on June 18 found the then-mayor guilty of five of six felony charges brought against him.

In the motion for a new trial, Hope Seeley, one of Perez's attorneys, argued that the court made an error in consolidating Perez's two cases one involving charges of bribe-receiving and accessory to the fabrication of evidence, and another involving extortion charges for one trial.

"The evidence from either case would have been completely inadmissible in the other," the motion states.

Seeley said Perez was "uniquely and substantially prejudiced" by the consolidation of the cases because he wished to testify in the bribe-receiving case, but not in the extortion case.

Seeley and Hubert Santos, who also defended Perez during the four-week trial, raised the argument previously in pretrial motions.

Santos said that former state Rep. Abraham Giles' various business deals with city hall would be overly prejudicial to the mayor's case if Perez was questioned about them.

Prosecutors have said that Perez, during his 2007 race for mayor, attempted to extort money from a private developer to benefit Giles, a political ally. In return, Giles could have brought Perez votes, prosecutors said.

Superior Court Judge Julia D. Dewey denied those pretrial motions.

In the motion filed Tuesday, Perez's lawyers referred to other cases in which the state Supreme Court ruled that the risk of prejudice against a defendant is high when two cases are joined together.

"When the risk of prejudice is too high, the proper remedy is new, severed trials," the motion states.

In a separate motion, the lawyers argued that Perez should be acquitted of all charges because the evidence "does not reasonably permit a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."

Perez was convicted last month of receiving a bribe, conspiracy to fabricate evidence, accessory to the fabrication of evidence, conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny by extortion and criminal attempt to commit first-degree larceny by extortion. He was acquitted of a charge of fabricating evidence.

Perez faces up to 55 years in prison at his sentencing. He resigned as Hartford's mayor on June 25 and was replaced by Pedro Segarra, who was serving as city council president.

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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