Former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez Was Sentenced to Jailtime. So ... Why Does He Have a Job with an Advocacy Group?
January 03, 2011
We reported last week on an ethics charge brought against Hartford’s former Corporation Counsel John Rose. The former official accepted a job with local law firm Crumbie Law Groups, after overseeing the award of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the firm while he was heading up the city’s legal department. We also mentioned the new gig former Mayor Eddie Perez recently landed with an AIDS advocacy group, the Connecticut AIDS Resource Council. Perez oversaw the granting of funds to that group too, to the tune of $419,132 over three years.
The news about Perez’s job made us pause. Didn’t that guy get convicted of bribery and extortion?
Well yes, he did. And he was sentenced to eight years in prison, suspended after three years. But he’s not in jail.
Hubert Santos, an attorney with Santos and Seeley, who represented Perez, said Perez likely won’t be going anywhere for at least a year and a half. And if the counselor has his way, he hopefully he won’t ever serve time. That’s because Perez is appealing his conviction, on the grounds that the case was overloaded with too many charges. Santos said the prosecution’s decision to combine several charges into one trial, in their opinion, didn’t give him a fair chance at a defense.
“The jury kind of heard two trials in one,” Santos says, “and we believe that was prejudicial.”
Perez was charged with crimes related to corruption, but the charges related to two distinct events. Perez was convicted of accepting remodeling work from a city contractor at below market rates, in return for helping him retain control of a revitalization project in the city. He was also convicted of trying to extort a payoff from another local businessman Joseph Citino. Santos said the two cases should never have been combined.
Executive Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Gailor, who prosecuted Perez, said the issuance of the appeal bond wasn’t unusual, in his experience. He also said the prosecution didn’t have a problem with Perez walking the streets while his appeal is processed. One reason defendants are often locked up immediately after trial is if there’s a significant risk that they’ll skip out on the charges. Gailor said that wasn’t a major concern with Perez.
“I don’t believe we objected to the imposition of an appeal bond in this case … we certainly didn’t think he was a flight risk or anything of that nature,” says Gailor.
Perez was convicted of five of the six charges against him. Those charges included receiving a bribe, and an attempt to commit larceny by extortion.