There's going to be a bit of a break before Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez's defense dream team is up Thursday.
As good a time as any to take a step back and ponder where we are four weeks into El Jefe's corruption trial.
Hands down, the most interesting, entertaining and potentially damaging witnesses so far were developer Joseph Citino and city contractor Carlos Costa. Honestly, court hasn't been half as interesting since the Capotesque contractor finished testifying.
Citino comes in a close second, if just for his tan — which his wife dutifully and firmly informed me did not come from a can.
Characters aside, if anyone was hoping for some "Law & Order" gotcha moment, it hasn't come — although Perez's lawyer Hubert Santos certainly suggests that's what it should take to convict his client.
Did Perez straight out ask Costa for those discounted home improvements?
Nope — even Costa admitted that.
But who doesn't raise an eyebrow and open up their wallet pronto when a city contractor who shouldn't even be in the mayor's house pimps out his bathroom with a steam shower to die for with nary a mention of a deposit?
And then there's the whole payoff part to this saga.
The defense, so far, is that the mayor never asked Citino to pay off old ward boss Abraham Giles to vacate a parking lot.
That's not how he works, Perez said during a taped June 2007 interview with Inspector Michael Sullivan. He just likes people to work together.
"Talk to him," Perez told Sullivan was all he told Citino.
"Work it out."
Even Corporation Counsel John Rose put his two cents in.
"Don't kick him off,'' Rose clarified during that interview.
Criminal? The jury will decide. But smelly for sure.
And for a guy who claims he had no idea that Giles was hitting up Citino for $100,000, Perez certainly blew up Citino's cellphone when the developer put the payoff in writing.
Perhaps one of the more interesting observations so far, however, came from another inspector in the room during that June interview.
At one point, Douglas Jowett asked, "Why would Giles' interest as a businessman outweigh the interest of Central Parking?" Central had been managing the lot before the city bought it and shoehorned Giles in.
Why? Because Central couldn't deliver the votes from the 5th District, silly.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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