Grand Juror Investigating Allegations Of Corruption In Hartford Finds Evidence Of 2 Crimes
JEFFREY B. COHEN
July 29, 2009
HARTFORD — - The judge investigating allegations of corruption in the administration of Mayor Eddie A. Perez has found sufficient evidence that another person committed two crimes, according to a letter filed with the courts Tuesday.
The letter was from attorney John J. Kelly, who has represented city politician and former state Rep. Abraham L. Giles before the grand jury. Giles' no-bid deal to operate a city parking lot stirred the interest of state investigators in 2007. Kelly's letter does not name Giles, and repeated efforts to reach both Giles and Kelly on Tuesday evening were unsuccessful.
Kelly and several other attorneys filed letters Tuesday in advance of today's Supreme Court hearing on whether the bulk of the final report of the grand juror's 18-month investigation into allegations of political corruption at city hall should be sealed. Attorneys for The Courant received Kelly's letter, and those of several other attorneys with clients before the grand jury, because the court recently granted the newspaper intervenor status in the case.
"I represent an interested party who was identified by name in the Final Report," Kelly wrote. "On page ten (10) of said Report, the Grand Juror found that '… probable cause exists that (my client) committed' two (2) crimes."
Kelly's letter then argues against unsealing the final report.
Also Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Dennis Eveleigh, the grand juror, released some of his report — although not the parts linking people with potential criminal activity. What he did disclose outlined the basics of the investigation — that there were 32 sessions with testimony from 150 witnesses and 316 items of documentary evidence.
He also outlined potential criminal violations — including fabrication of physical evidence, criminal attempt to commit first-degree larceny, conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny, first-degree larceny by extortion and fraudulent voting — without linking them to specific people.
It was publicity about the Giles deal that first drew the interest of state investigators in 2007, and, later that year, Giles confirmed that he had appeared before the grand jury. In addition to the no-bid parking lot deal with the city, investigators looked into another deal involving the city and a private developer that promised Giles $100,000. That deal never went through.
At least one other matter between the city and Giles later came to light — the city in early 2007 paid a $10,000 bill to help clean out Giles' Windsor Street warehouse.
Last week, Eveleigh said that he would seal the parts of his report in which he found probable cause because the report's release could either damage a person's right to a fair trial or a person's reputation.
Just because Eveleigh has found probable cause, though, does not mean that Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane will necessarily file for arrest warrants.
The Courant appealed Eveleigh's decision Friday, arguing in part that jury questioning and a change of venue could ensure a fair trial.
Late Friday, the Supreme Court said that it would hear the case today, and it decided Monday that the hearing would be open to the public.
Also Monday, the court directed the attorneys involved to explain how their clients were interested parties — including whether they were targets of the investigation in which probable cause was found. That's what Kelly's letter does.
"I sent that because I had to identify how I was an interested party," Kelly said about his letter in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. "I wasn't sending it for publication."
Later efforts to reach Kelly were unsuccessful.
Perez has been the focus of state investigators since the beginning of 2007. He was arrested in January 2009 and pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, fabricating evidence and conspiracy to fabricate evidence relating to allegedly discounted work done on his home by city contractor Carlos Costa. Costa was also arrested and has pleaded not guilty. Perez's trial is scheduled to begin in September.
Perez's lawyer, Hubert Santos, said in his Tuesday letter to the court that the grand juror's final report should stay sealed lest it delay the mayor's criminal trial and "cause political turmoil within Hartford's City Government." Santos agreed with Eveleigh that releasing the report would damage Perez's right to a fair trial, and he rejected The Courant's argument that Perez could have a trial elsewhere in the state.
"Mr. Perez is the only minority Mayor of Connecticut's five major cities," Santos wrote. "He has a right to be tried in the Judicial District where he has an opportunity of selecting Hispanic and African American jurors."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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