Corruption Charge Veronica Airey-Wilson should leave office as a condition of probation
Hartford Courant Editorial
October 02, 2010
If Veronica Airey-Wilson is to receive a special form of probation for her role in Hartford's recent corruption scandal, it should come with one important caveat — that she resign from the city council.
Ms. Airey-Wilson was charged with tampering with physical evidence to show that she paid for improvements to her home done by city contractor Carlos Costa, even though Mr. Costa had done the work for free. Mr. Costa said under oath that he installed granite countertops in Ms. Airey-Wilson's butler pantry at her request and didn't intend to charge her because "she was a councilwoman and she was in a position to help me."
The state contends that Ms. Airey-Wilson produced a phony check for $420 to show she paid for the work. Costa said he never received the check, and that the work was worth about $1,500.
This is the same pattern of conduct that got former Mayor Eddie Perez convicted of bribery in June. Mr. Costa performed deeply discounted home improvement work in Mr. Perez's home, and got Mr. Perez's help in keeping a $5.3 million city contract that was marred by delays and shoddy work.
Ms. Airey-Wilson has applied for accelerated rehabilitation, a form of probation available to first-time offenders through which her record will be erased if she successfully completes the program.
Her supporters may point out that the value of the work done in Ms. Airey-Wilson's home was considerably less than the $40,000 worth of work done in Mr. Perez's home, and that Ms. Airey-Wilson had no involvement in the extortion matter that was the basis of other charges against Mr. Perez. She nonetheless violated the public's trust in the office she has held for 16 years. Tampering with physical evidence is serious, a Class D felony.
Accelerated rehabilitation may be appropriate in her case, but she should not remain on the city council. Indeed, it is troubling that since her request for special probation, there has been almost no call for her to resign. Is Hartford getting immune to corruption? Is it acceptable to be on the take and on the council? Let us hope not.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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