Perez Facing Tough Decision About Whether To Testify
May 21, 2010
HARTFORD — Mayor Eddie A. Perez faces a tough decision about whether to testify at his corruption trial.
His lawyers are concerned about opening Perez up for questioning on charges that have yet to be raised at the trial.
The investigator who taped Perez testified this week that the mayor lied about when he paid for work done on his home, and that workers who did the remodeling job in 2005 said the mayor wasn't paying for it.
And Carlos Costa, the city contractor and Perez fundraiser who arranged and supervised the work at the mayor's house, said he did about $40,000 worth of work expecting only increased access to the mayor, and that around the time Perez asked him for a bill in late 2006, rumors of the free work were swirling around the city.
The mayor paid $20,000 for the work in the summer of 2007, two years after the job was done.
Defense lawyers Hubert Santos and Hope Seeley have indicated that the mayor disputes much of this, or at least the context in which the prosecution is laying out the case. They also took issue with some of the investigative tactics, including the "cover" that law officers put on the mayor's mail at home. For a period of time, with permission from the U.S. Postal Service and no warrant needed, photocopies were made of the envelopes of all the mail that came to the Perez household.
Santos told Judge Julia Dewey Thursday that he knows Perez needs to take the witness stand to counter the testimony of Sullivan and Costa.
But Santos says he has a problem. There's another part to the corruption trial, beyond the bribe-receiving and evidence-fabrication felony charges that the mayor faces. That part — which has not been the subject of testimony so far — concerns political power broker Abraham Giles, and the lucrative, no-bid parking lot deals Giles got from the Perez administration, allegedly in exchange for his support in 2007 as competition for the mayor's seat heated up. Perez is charged with attempted larceny by extortion in connection with a $100,000 fee that Giles allegedly was demanding from a developer, Joseph Citino, to vacate a parking lot Citino needed for a commercial development.
Santos said the mayor wants to testify about the bribery portion of the testimony, but he doesn't want to expose his client to questions about Giles — an inevitability if the mayor takes the stand.
"It's our view the mayor needs to testify to explain certain things. ... The problem is the larceny charge, your honor," Santos said.
Because of the baggage surrounding Giles in the city — he's charged with attempted larceny by extortion and conspiracy himself in the case — Perez would "be hit with so many subjects that it would be hard to handle them all," Santos said.
For example, there's the issue of Giles' deal with the city to move the possessions of people who have been evicted. The deal was so lucrative that Giles was paid around $90,000 over two years not to move the items.
Santos has asked for the bribery and the Giles portions of the trial to be separated into two cases.
Prosecutors Michael Gailor and Chris Alexy strongly objected and Dewey denied the motion, leaving Santos, Seeley, and the mayor with a tough decision.
The trial resumes early next week.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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