HARTFORD — City Councilman Kenneth Kennedy was the first witness to testify in phase two of the Chief State Attorney’s Office’s case against Mayor Eddie Perez for alleged bribery and larceny.
Sitting as the prosecutors’ expert witness on North End political dealings, Kennedy said Perez needed a “magic number” to garner the Democratic Town Committee’s endorsement for mayor in the 2007 election, and the only district that was large and malleable enough to give him that number was the 5th Assembly District, which was under the control of Abe Giles. The crucial number was 50 percent plus one of about 70 committee members. Giles, who has been in Hartford politics since the 1940s, was a known political opponent of Perez since 2001. But sometime in 2006, the octogenarian went on a radio show and backed Perez, said Kennedy who has plans to run for mayor. According to prosecutors, Perez rewarded Giles with lucrative city contracts in exchange for his support in the fifth district.
That’s the essence of the state’s larceny case that began on day eight of the state’s corruption case against Perez.
But before prosecutors delved into the second phase of their case, they wrapped up the first phase on bribe receiving and fabricating evidence with testimony from a Hartford Federal Credit Union employee who said Perez applied for a $25,000 home equity loan for home repairs and debt consolidation on June 27, 2007, which prosecutors said Perez borrowed to pay a city after he learned about the state’s investigation.
Also in the bribery portion of the case last week, Inspector Michael Sullivan testified Perez was visibly nervous when questioned about work done at his house by a city contractor. Prosecutors also claimed that Perez had work on his house done by Carlos Costa of USA Contractors Inc. and in return gave Costa more access to his office and helped Costa stay on the job despite complaints about shoddy work.
But testimony from various city workers revealed it would have “cost the city a fortune” if Perez and his aide had not step in to mediate the contentious relationship with Costa and the city department of public works. In addition, Perez’s administrative assistant Barbara Crockett revealed Costa emailed and called incessantly but failed to gain extra access to the mayor.
Also on the stand last week was City Treasurer Kathleen Palm Devine. Devine said she received an email from the mayor’s office about expedited checks for Costa. Prosecutors contend that Costa’s checks were a pay off by Perez for work done to his kitchen and bathroom on Bloomfield Avenue by Costa. But after Perez’s attorneys questioned Devine, she said every disbursed check is thoroughly vetted by her office. She then acknowledged that the checks Costa received were valid checks and were expedited because of the city’s delay in paying Costa for work done during the previous year.
Perez’s corruption case continues on Thursday at 10 a.m.