HARTFORD - The final alternate juror in Mayor Eddie A. Perez's corruption case was selected Thursday, clearing the way for a trial on bribery and larceny charges to start May 12.
The jury of six comprises three white women — two from Manchester and one from Canton — a white man from Simsbury, a Cuban-born woman from Hartford and a Hispanic man from Hartford.
The three alternates are a white woman from Simsbury, a woman from India who lives in Manchester and an African American woman from Hartford.
The two-week selection process wasn't without its fireworks, with defense lawyers Hubert Santos and Hope Seeley overcoming prosecution challenges to keep the Hispanic man, a part-time bail bondsman, and the Cuban-born woman, who was a rape victim, on the jury.
Prosecutors Michael Gailor and Chris Alexy challenged the bondsman because they felt that he was too closely associated with criminal defendants. They challenged the Cuban-born woman because they felt that two of her answers during juror questioning — that her religious beliefs wouldn't keep her from sitting in judgment of someone, and that she held police officers in high regard — didn't square with her statements and actions as a crime victim.
In both instances, Superior Court Judge Julia Dewey found that that the jurors had given truthful, neutral answers and she kept them on the panel.
In court papers filed before jury selection began, Santos indicated that the racial composition of the jury was an important factor in the defense of Hartford's first Hispanic mayor.
Perez, 53, a three-term mayor, is charged with receiving a bribe, fabricating physical evidence and conspiracy to fabricate physical evidence. He is accused of accepting free or deeply discounted work on his home from a developer — family friend Carlos Costa — who has received millions of dollars in city contracts. The arrest warrant alleges that Perez paid about $20,000 for an estimated $40,000 worth of home improvement work from Costa, writing a check to Costa nearly two years after the work was done. The payment immediately followed his first interview with investigators, in which Perez said he had already paid Costa, the warrant says.
Perez also is charged with criminal attempt to commit first-degree larceny by extortion and coercion for allegedly allowing political power broker Abraham Giles to maintain lucrative parking-lot deals without valid city contracts. In return, the warrant says, Giles, a former Perez adversary, threw his political weight behind the mayor.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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