Mayor Pedro Segarra on Monday fired the deputy director of public works, who was charged over the weekend with drunken driving after a crash that totaled a city-owned vehicle and injured another driver.
A preliminary investigation showed that Rhonda Moniz-Carroll, 53, was driving south on Prospect Avenue Saturday night and veered into oncoming traffic, police said. She collided head-on with another vehicle about 9:30 p.m.
Both the city-issued vehicle that Moniz-Carroll was driving and the other car were damaged in the crash.
The driver of the other car was taken to St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center for treatment of an ankle injury and a concussion, police said. They said that Moniz-Carroll, of 54 Cone St., refused medical attention and appeared to be intoxicated.
Moniz-Carroll refused to take a Breathalyzer test, police said Monday. She was driving a 2012 Ford Escape owned by the city.
Segarra called the incident "very serious" and said that Moniz-Carroll "not only placed her life at risk, but also the lives of others."
"I've decided what I feel is an appropriate action based on people I appoint and that I have direct supervision of," he said. "Ultimately, it is [the taxpayers] who pay the price when this happens in the city."
Moniz-Carroll's termination is effective immediately, the mayor said. The deputy director, who made an annual salary of $101,833, had been employed by the city for 16 years.
City-issued vehicles are to be used "only for commuting between the home and work assignments," according to city policy. "No other personal use is allowed," the policy states.
Kevin Carroll, Moniz-Carroll's husband, attended a press conference at city hall Monday. He said that his wife was not drunk and refused a Breathalyzer test because she was confused and disoriented after the crash.
"I don't think she was in her right mind at the time," said Carroll, a lawyer.
He said that the accident occurred about two blocks from their home, and that he had been with his wife until about 7 p.m. Saturday. She had not been drinking, Carroll said.
He called the firing unfair and said that Moniz-Carroll was "probably one of the hardest workers in the city of Hartford."
Carroll said the firing appeared to be politically motivated.
"Without any form of due process," he said, "they are terminating her for political benefit."
A lot of attention has been focused on city-issued vehicles since Segarra's former chief of staff, Jared Kupiec, was charged in July with using a car without permission and interfering with police.
Police found a city-owned Ford Explorer outside Kupiec's Capitol Avenue home after he had left his city hall job. He admitted that he had used the car without permission.
Kupiec was later granted accelerated rehabilitation, a special form of probation.
At the city council's request, the Hartford Internal Audit Commission is investigating the assignments and policies for take-home vehicles. The commission also is investigating Saturday's crash.
Currently, 59 employees are assigned city vehicles that they may take home, said Maribel La Luz, Segarra's spokeswoman.
Councilman Kenneth Kennedy, a Democrat, has introduced a proposal that would ban the practice of taking vehicles home except for Segarra, Police Chief James Rovella, acting Fire Chief Carlos Huertas and Department of Public Works Director Kevin Burnham.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at