HARTFORD — After seeing the Office of the Chief State Attorney’s evidence for bribery–especially its star witness–Mayor Eddie Perez wants to testify in his defense. And there might be reasons for a mistrial, according to Perez’s lawyer.
Day five of the state’s case against Perez was a repetitive listing of the type of renovations done on his house. The day ended early and with Attorney Hubert Santos request to Judge Julia Dewy to rule on whether a secretly taped conversation with the chief state attorney can be used in the combined trial of Perez’s bribery and larceny cases.
Santos told the judge he learned that the state intends to use the secretly taped conversation between him and Inspector Michael Sullivan, who is scheduled to take the stand on Thursday. This move, Santos said, “raises many issues” because Sullivan might implicate and force him to remove himself from Perez’s defense team.
State Prosecutor Michael Gailor said Santos told his office that the invoice represented all the work done at the mayor’s house. The state said the mayor allegedly received $40, 000 worth of work for $20,000.
Santos said that although he was the mayor’s lawyer in July 2007, he wasn’t fully aware of the case at that point when he spoke to Attorney Kevin Kane and sent over a requested invoice , which he thought reflected all the work at Perez’s house on Bloomfield Avenue.
“What the state wants to do is to quote me through this representation,” Santos said.
Judge Dewey said she will review the information and rule on whether prosecutors can use the taped conversation, which is illegal in Connecticut. But there is an exception for law enforcement officers.
In January 2007, the chief state’s attorney’s began investigating allegations of corruption against Perez, who was elected in fall 2001. The mayor had his kitchen and bathroom remodeled by USA Contractors, inc., owned by city contractor. Costa is also Perez’s friend.
Costa, in a competitive bid, won the a $5.3 million contract to do the Park Street renovation project, which later morphed into a nightmarish job and resulted in a contentious relationship between him and the city’s Department of Public Works.
The state is accusing Perez of receiving a bribe from Costa and for intervening in the relationship between Costa and DPW. To date, prosecutors have called nine witnesses, including the star witness, city contractor Costa. They also called Costa’s vendors, workers and city employees, including workers from a consultant firm, Urban Engineers.
Costa’s testimony revealed that he offered to install kitchen countertops for the mayor and his wife. Defense claimed that Costa said it would be “no problem” to do the work cheaper. The initial work of just kitchen countertop evolved into bathroom renovations. He said he had no plans to bill the mayor.
Dewey is expected to rule on whether Perez can testify and on whether Sullivan can testify about the content of the secretly taped conversation between him and Santos.