Implicated in Perez Corruption Scandal at Hartford City Hall
August 11, 2010
HARTFORD —A Superior Court judge rejected Abraham Giles' request for a special probationary program during a hearing Tuesday, citing the serious nature of the crime he is accused of committing.
"It's kind of ironic this is happening on Election Day," said Judge Julia Dewey. "Any suggestion that the process is improperly used or open for bidding is unacceptable."
Giles, a widely known city politician and political ally of former Mayor Eddie Perez, allegedly took part in Perez's attempt to extort $100,000 from a city developer. In exchange, Giles could have obtained votes for Perez during his re-election bid in 2007, state prosecutors contend.
Giles, 84, is charged with attempted first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny. Under the accelerated rehabilitation program, the charges against Giles could have been erased after a period of probation.
Instead, Giles is scheduled to return to Superior Court in October for pre-trial.
Perez, arrested as part of the same investigation, was convicted of corruption charges in June and faces sentencing next month.
Arguing on behalf of his client, attorney John Kelly said Giles, whom he described as a businessman, a community organizer, a state legislator and leader in the civil rights movement, has never broken the law and at his age isn't likely to offend again.
Kelly read from several of 75 letters submitted to Dewey by Giles supporters who wrote that Giles had taken in a homeless family, passed out turkeys to the community or had given jobs to convicted criminals.
"What you have is someone who is 84 years old, who never offended the law before, who ran honest businesses for years. All of the sudden he goes bad?" Kelly said.
The charges against Giles stem from a lot at a 1143 Main St. Giles had a contract with the city to run the lot and, prosecutors contend, demanded $100,000 from a developer looking to buy the property.
Perez, prosecutors say, condoned the payment and backed Giles' attempt to collect it. Perez, the state charged, was politically weak in the city's North End, where Giles holds considerable political power.
To address the allegation of attempted extortion, Kelly had Giles' business attorney, John Kardaras, make a statement.
Kardaras said that during negotiations, an agent for the developer offered Giles $100,000 to walk away from his contract with the city. Giles also had the opportunity to manage the property.
"We agreed to accept the offer. Once the matter hit the press, the deal fell through and nothing happened," Kardaras said.
Giles, who wore a "I Voted Today" sticker on his lapel, said he was surprised by the criminal charges against him.
"In this transaction, I tried to get a job. That's all I did. That's how I've lived my whole life. I've tried to make a living to take care of my family and my community," he said.
State prosecutor Christopher Alexy challenged Kelly's claim that Giles would not reoffend despite his age. Only two years ago, Alexy said, Giles received $25,000 in public money to run an election campaign.
Some of the money went to relatives and friends, including $1,000 given to Giles' grandson and $800 used to pay rent for Giles' company, Alexy said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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