'First Five' executive announces indefinite leave of absence from TicketNetwork

Hartford - The chief executive officer for one of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's "First Five" companies who was arrested Monday on hate crime and threatening charges announced today that he will take an indefinite leave of absence from his firm.

Donald Vaccaro, who founded the secondary-market event ticket company TicketNetwork in 2002, said in a statement that he is taking a break to resolve his legal troubles and seek personal counseling and treatment for alcohol abuse.

Prior to Vaccaro's announcement, Malloy told reporters that in light of the CEO's arrest and alleged misbehavior at an Academy Awards party in Hartford, his administration would give a second look to its tentative deal for a grant and low-interest loan to the South Windsor-based company.

"His behavior was boorish," Malloy said this morning. "Aspects of his behavior that has been described makes him look like a jerk."

Witnesses told police that Vaccaro made unwanted physical contact with at least one woman at the party, as well as threatening racial remarks to a black security guard who tried to escort him out.

Vaccaro announced his leave of absence several hours later through a public relations firm.

"TicketNetwork is a great company with wonderful employees and I do not want my personal actions to impact the company's growth," the CEO said. "In my absence, our long-term senior management team is more than ready for the task of running TicketNetwork without me."

Malloy said he didn't wish to threaten the company's growth, but wants the state to take a "balanced approach" in re-examining the firm. He called on TicketNetwork to decide as well on the type of relationship it wants with the state.

The First Five deal, which is still not finalized, calls for a $4.5 million, 2-percent interest loan to the firm. If TicketNetwork grows from the 200 jobs it supported last summer to 492 jobs, $2.5 million of the state loan would be "forgiven." The state also would award a $1.45 million grant.

Police arrested Vaccaro shortly after midnight Monday at a Oscar night fundraiser and charged him with second-degree hate crime, second-degree threatening, breach of peace, first-degree criminal trespass and interfering with police.

"Even if there is a matter of legal innocence, that is, that a crime was not committed, the boorishness of the behavior by someone who is in that kind of position is disturbing," Malloy said today.

In his statement, Vaccaro said he hopes to publicly discuss "this issue" in the future.

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