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Former Hartford Mayor To Be Sentenced Tuesday

Perez Continues To Maintain His Innocence And Will Appeal His Conviction

Jenna Carlesso

September 12, 2010

Former Mayor Eddie A. Perez will find out the real cost of discounted home repairs and attempted payoffs to political allies when he returns to court for sentencing Tuesday.

Veteran criminal attorneys who followed the case have differing opinions on what penalty the former mayor may face from Judge Julia Dewey, but many said it will almost certainly include prison time.

"Any judge is going to have to consider not only what they feel is appropriate, but what the public feels is appropriate and what the legislature feels is appropriate," said Michael Georgetti, a criminal defense lawyer. [Dewey] has a lot of things to take into consideration, and chief among those is Perez's insistence that he did nothing wrong when the evidence is to the contrary."

Perez's four-week trial ended in June with guilty verdicts on five of six felony counts, including bribery and extortion. Prosecutors charged that Perez accepted deeply discounted home improvement work from city contractor Carlos Costa, who they said needed Perez's help to hold on to a $5.3 million contract to reconstruct Park Street, a job plagued by delays and shoddy work.

Costa and other witnesses testified during the trial that Perez assigned Charles Crocini, director of capital projects in the mayor's office, to run interference for Costa and try to settle $1.7 million in claims from Costa for extra payments beyond the contract price, even though public works officials and an expert consultant said that most of the claims lacked merit.

The prosecution also asserted that Perez wanted North End politician Abraham Giles to be paid off to vacate a parking lot that was on a sliver of land crucial to a developer's plans for a condo and shopping center.

Perez, 52, has maintained his innocence and will appeal. His attorneys, Hubert Santos and Hope Seeley, filed post-trial motions asking that Perez be acquitted of all charges and requesting a new trial. Among the issues they raised is a claim that consolidating the Costa and Giles matters into one trial was unfair to Perez.

Santos could not be reached for comment Friday.

"With everything I know about the case, I do expect him to receive a jail sentence," said trial lawyer Gerald Klein. "[Dewey] has got to consider what has happened to public officials in other cases of a similar nature."

Georgetti said Perez's sentence will likely fall between the one-year-and-a-day sentence given to former Gov. John G. Rowland after he pleaded guilty in 2004 to a federal conspiracy charge, and the nine-year term given to former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim for taking kickbacks. Georgetti predicted that Perez would get four to seven years.

The cases differ, however, because Rowland admitted his guilt and Ganim did not.

"There is an interesting contrast to be drawn between the Rowland case and the Ganim case," said Jeffrey Meyer, a law professor at Quinnipiac University and former federal prosecutor. "Rowland, of course, accepted responsibility. Ganim fought it and denied it. That seems to be where Perez is going."

"The judge might view him as a dim prospect for rehabilitation," Meyer said.

Klein said, however, that Perez shouldn't be given a harsher sentence because he went to trial.

"Nobody's been hurt by this guy going to trial, unlike say, a sexual assault case where the victim has to testify and relive the experience," he said. "It's not a violent crime. He has no criminal record."

Klein estimated that Perez would receive a sentence between 90 days and 18 months.

"He's been punished for what he did publicly. He resigned from his office in disgrace," Klein noted. "Does he deserve more than 90 days in jail? I don't think so."

William Gerace, a criminal defense lawyer who represents Costa in his pending criminal case and who defended developer Joseph Citino a witness at the Perez trial during the grand jury investigation, said his clients have "no animosity" toward Perez.

"I'm hoping he gets a lenient sentence," Gerace said. "The damage is done. He's had to resign. I'm sure he's being punished as we speak. My clients wish him well."

Perez is scheduled to be sentenced at 10 a.m. in Superior Court in Hartford.

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.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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