Mayor Pedro Segarra's former chief of staff, who had been charged with using a city vehicle after leaving his job, was granted a special form of probation Thursday that could allow him to avoid a criminal record.
Jared Kupiec, 30, was arrested last month on charges of using a motor vehicle without the owner's permission and interfering with police, both misdemeanors. At his arraignment in Superior Court in Hartford, he was granted accelerated rehabilitation, a pretrial program that allows nonviolent offenders to have the cases against them dismissed after completing a period of probation.
Kupiec will be on probation for one year and must make restitution to the city. He must pay at least $2,662 in restitution and perform 100 hours of community service. The restitution must include compensation for the city's inability to use the car while he had it, and towing costs.
Judge Joan K. Alexander told Kupiec that he also must disclose to any potential employer that an allegation of misuse of city equipment is pending against him.
"The court realizes that this is a matter that, while not a violent one, fosters a mistrust in government," the judge said.
If Kupiec successfully completes the probation, the charges against him will be dismissed on Aug. 8, 2014.
"Jared has been a very talented, dedicated public servant," Ross Garber, Kupiec's lawyer, said after the arraignment Thursday. "He served the city of Hartford for years. He's going to go on to have a terrific career. This was an unfortunate incident."
Garber said Kupiec will likely pursue a job in the private sector or continue his education.
He declined to say why Kupiec had the car in his possession. Kupiec told police he had taken it to transport a youth baseball team that he coaches, according to the warrant for his arrest.
"We appreciate how the court dealt with it," Garber said of the case. "We're on a path toward having the court dismiss this matter entirely, and I think that is an appropriate result."
It is unusual for a person to be granted accelerated rehabilitation at his or her arraignment. In most cases, people charged with a crime apply for the program after their initial court appearance, and then court officials check to make sure they are eligible. Garber said Kupiec applied during the arraignment.
In order to be granted accelerated rehabilitation, a judge must find that the defendant is unlikely to offend again.
Asked if Kupiec received special treatment, Garber replied: "The city was provided notice. A representative of the city was here; they didn't oppose the [accelerated rehabilitation] program and the court ordered it. Mr. Kupiec is now moving on."
Kupiec turned himself in to Hartford police July 30 and was released on a promise to appear in court.
Kupiec's last day working for the city was June 21. His possession of the city vehicle came to the attention of Hartford police on July 8 as they investigated several car break-ins along Capitol Avenue near Main Street.
An officer noticed the break-ins and determined that one of the cars involved was registered to the city, police Lt. Brian Foley said.
Kupiec initially told investigating officers he didn't know how the city vehicle ended up in front of his building, but later admitted to police that he had used it, according to his arrest warrant.
Garber told the judge Thursday that he didn't believe Kupiec should reimburse the city for damage caused by vandals.
But Alexander noted that if he hadn't moved the city car from its parking lot at Hartford Public Library, it wouldn't have been vandalized.
In the months before his resignation, Kupiec had been criticized for charging a $700 New Year's Eve dinner at Max Downtown to his city-issued credit card. The meal was for eight people, including the mayor, who dined on caviar, rack of lamb and oysters, records show. Kupiec and Segarra later reimbursed the city for the meal.
He was also criticized by Chief Auditor H. Patrick Campbell for having access to a gym at the city's new public safety facility. That access was subsequently revoked.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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