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Hartford Councilwoman, City Businessman Plead Not Guilty In Corruption Probe

Jeffrey B. Cohen

September 19, 2009

HARTFORD - A Republican city councilwoman and a city businessman, both arrested in connection with the state's investigation of corruption at city hall, pleaded not guilty in Superior Court Friday.

Attorneys for Councilwoman Veronica Airey-Wilson and businessman Carlos Lopez told Judge Julia Dewey they would choose a jury trial. The next court appearance for both is Nov. 6.

Prosecutors say Mayor Eddie A. Perez, during his 2007 race for mayor, attempted to extort money from a private developer for the benefit of political ally Abraham L. Giles. In return, Giles could have brought Perez votes, prosecutors allege.

In January, Perez was accused of trading his influence at city hall for discounted work on his Bloomfield Avenue home. Prosecutors have filed a motion to combine the two cases against Perez, who has until Oct. 5 to respond to the motion.

Airey-Wilson was accused earlier this month of fabricating evidence to show she had paid for work done on her home by the same city contractor that Perez used.

"The claim against Mrs. Airey-Wilson is not sustainable and will not be proven by any standard of evidence, certainly not beyond a reasonable doubt," said Steven Seligman, her attorney, earlier this month.

"It is unfortunate that after more than 18 months of investigation, requiring the expenditure of more than a million and a half dollars of taxpayers' money, that the mountain labored and brought forth only the molehill," Seligman said.

Lopez is accused of voting in Hartford three times while living in Farmington, according to a warrant for his arrest.

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.
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