In seeking the dismissal of corruption charges against his client Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez, attorney Hubert Santos recently accused prosecutors of trying to "oust the only minority mayor" in Connecticut's five biggest cities and claimed the state has created a "circus atmosphere" that could prejudice the jury pool.
The charges were not dropped. But Mr. Santos' argument got us to thinking. Four years ago, in the midst of a federal investigation into allegations that he took bribes, state Sen. Ernest Newton announced his resignation in a rant before supporters and blamed racism and the media for his predicament. Mr. Newton later pleaded guilty to bribery and was sentenced to five years in prison.
We hate to see Mr. Perez adopt the same blame-everybody-else tactics and create a circus-like atmosphere in proclaiming his innocence, which he has every right to do.
Mr. Santos raised the issue of race on behalf of his client even though there is no evidence that it played a role. Mr. Perez himself brought the circus to town by holding a rally after each of his arrests this year — in January on bribery and other charges and earlier this month on attempted extortion charges — in which he packed the function room at city hall with chanting, ribbon-bedecked supporters and complained about a "trial in the media."
We hope for Hartford's sake, and for his, that Mr. Perez isn't proved a crook. But it gets to be a little too much when the mayor's defense insinuates that the prosecution is motivated by racial considerations and when it complains about pretrial publicity — all the while Mr. Perez himself creates a mountain of his own.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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