City To Seek Up To $3K From Ex-Chief Of Staff For Using Car
By JENNA CARLESSO
July 09, 2013
HARTFORD — The city will seek as much as $3,000 in restitution from former chief of staff Jared Kupiec for damages to a city vehicle found parked in front of his home, officials said.
City officials, who originally had planned to send Kupiec a letter Tuesday notifying him that he must make reimbursement, said they will wait until the conclusion of a police investigation before pursuing the payment.
Kupiec, who left his city post two weeks ago, is under investigation by the Hartford Police Department's internal affairs division for using a city vehicle after he had left his job.
Kupiec's possession of the vehicle came to the attention of Hartford police Monday morning as they investigated several car break-ins along Capitol Avenue near Main Street. Kupiec lives at 17 Capitol Ave.
An officer noticed the break-ins and determined that one of the cars broken into was registered to the city, said Lt. Brian Foley, head of the department's major crimes division.
The mayor's office said that Kupiec was using the city vehicle "after the conclusion of his employment with the city of Hartford without authorization." Kupiec, whose last day was June 21, received 2½ weeks' severance pay. His salary was $115,000 a year.
The city's internal audit commission also is investigating Kupiec's use of the vehicle and whether he is in possession of any other city property, a source said Tuesday.
Mayor Pedro Segarra said Tuesday morning that he would seek full restitution for all damages to and for use of the vehicle. Kupiec had "no permission whatsoever to use that vehicle," Segarra said.
The car has been towed from Kupiec's home to a public works lot, the mayor said.
Segarra said such behavior would not be tolerated.
"We need to show we're going to be accountable and take whatever action we need to take when someone breaks our trust," he said.
Segarra said that Kupiec's other city belongings — including his city-issued cellphone, city-issued credit card, computer and iPad — had been turned in.
Kupiec's city cellphone was reissued to another city employee last week, said Maribel La Luz, Segarra's spokeswoman.
Kupiec, 30, did not return a call to his personal cellphone Tuesday.
La Luz said that Kupiec initially told investigating officers that he did not know how the city vehicle ended up in front of his building, but later admitted to police that he had used it.
Segarra said that Kupiec turned in his city property on June 21 and left the vehicle in a lot next to the Hartford Public Library, where other employees, such as the corporation counsel and chief operating officer, have designated parking spaces.
Segarra said that city employees had spotted the vehicle in the lot after Kupiec's departure. Officials are now working to determine when it was removed from the lot. A city source said more than 1,200 miles were added to the vehicle's odometer between June 13 and Monday. The mileage is recorded each time the car is fueled; the car was last fueled by the city on June 13, according to records.
Police Chief James Rovella has said that the leased Ford Explorer was initially assigned to the police department fleet, but in October 2012 was turned over to the city department of public works, which then assigned it to city hall.
The officer who came upon the car break-ins wrote in a report that Kupiec denied knowledge of how the car came to be on the street near his home; the officer notified a supervisor and the evidence unit, the chief said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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