The prosecution in Mayor Eddie A. Perez's corruption case says that Abraham Giles, the mayor's erstwhile political ally, had no legal right to run a parking lot at 1143 Main St., and therefore had no business subleasing the land for four times what he was paying the city.
Giles, 83, a former state representative and a longtime ward committee leader in the North End, had told the owners and developers of property at Main and Trumbull streets in 2006 that he had an agreement with the city to operate a parking lot on the site, according to trial testimony, and he demanded a $100,000 payment to vacate the land.
The prosecution says that Perez was aware of and condoned the payment as a benefit to Giles, while the defense said the mayor never told anybody to pay Giles anything.
Giles "said he had an agreement with the city. I took that to mean that he had a lease," John Concilio, a former sales representative with Chozick Realty, testified Thursday. The realty company was brokering the sale of the long-vacant, blighted structure at 1161 Main St. popularly known as the "Butt Ugly Building," and the buyers needed the adjacent land at 1143 Main St. to make the project work.
Developer Joseph Citino testified that Perez told him after looking at Citino's plans that the developer would have to "take care of" Giles "or there would be no next step." Perez is charged with attempted larceny by extortion in connection with Giles' demand for money.
Giles never had a formal lease with the city to operate the lot at 1143 Main St., according to the prosecution.
For a period of time, he was paying the city $500 a month in rent and then was subleasing the lot to LAZ Parking for $2,250 a month.
But defense lawyer Hope Seeley suggested Thursday that 1143 Main St. was also known as "Tract B" and that there was a 1991 licensing agreement between the city and Giles' company, G&G Enterprises.
She indicated that the Hartford Redevelopment Authority might have had jurisdiction over the property.
The suggestion was that Perez had been referring to this agreement when he told Citino at their initial meeting in 2006 that Giles had been operating the lot for 20 years or more.
Juliann Butler, former city revenue manager, testified Thursday she was asked by city officials several times between 2005 and 2008 to look for a lease or licensing agreement for 1143 Main St. and could never find one.
She told prosecutor Christopher Alexy that she never found any documents linking Giles to the operation of that parking lot.
Prosecutors assert that Giles was getting bargain-basement rates without bids or contracts as a political payoff from Perez.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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