Former state Rep. Abraham Giles, who was arrested in the city hall corruption investigation involving former Mayor Eddie A. Perez, has opted to take his chances at a trial.
Judge David P. Gold, who met with Giles' lawyer, John Kelly, and prosecutor Chris Alexy in court Wednesday, said the case is "not going to be resolved prior to a trial being scheduled."
Jury selection is scheduled to begin Jan. 3 at Superior Court in Hartford. Evidence will be heard immediately after jury selection, Gold said.
"His original plea was 'not guilty,' " Kelly said, referring to Giles. "We're going to trial because pretrial discussions were not fruitful."
Giles is charged with criminal attempt to commit larceny by extortion and conspiracy to commit larceny by extortion. Judge Julia D. Dewey, who sentenced Perez to three years in prison on bribery and extortion charges, will preside over the trial.
Prosecutors said that in 2007, Perez attempted to extort money from a private developer for Giles' benefit, and that, in return, Giles would secure votes for Perez, who was running for re-election.
The state contends that Perez exploited Giles' influence in the city's 5th District, steering lucrative no-bid parking lot deals and other business arrangements to Giles in exchange for a promise to deliver votes and assure Perez the endorsement of the Democratic town committee. The 5th District was torn between Perez and candidates Minnie Gonzalez, Frank Barrows and I. Charles Mathews.
In July 2007, Perez received the endorsement at the Democratic town committee convention, with crucial support from the 5th District. He went on to win the primary and general election.
One of the corruption counts against Perez — larceny by extortion — involved a $100,000 fee that Giles allegedly demanded from developer Joseph Citino to vacate a parking lot that Citino needed for a commercial development. Prosecutors said that Perez wanted Giles taken care of, even though Giles' demand for payment from Citino blocked plans to raze and redevelop a famously decrepit structure at 1161 Main St. widely known as the "Butt-Ugly Building.''
A jury convicted Perez of five felony corruption charges in June. He was sentenced to prison in September, but is free on bail pending an appeal.
Giles was one of five people arrested in connection with an investigation into corruption at city hall. In addition to Giles and Perez, city Councilwoman Veronica Airey-Wilson; Edward Lazu, a former city contract compliance officer; and city contractor Carlos Costa were arrested. Airey-Wilson and Lazu received accelerated rehabilitation, a special form of probation that would allow their criminal records to be expunged if successfully completed. Costa's case is pending at Superior Court in Hartford.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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