Buscetto's attorney questions Ethics Board's investigation into police chief's complaint

New London - The attorney for Michael Buscetto III, the city councilor who is a write-in candidate for mayor, is questioning the legitimacy of the process by which the Ethics Board is investigating his dispute with the police chief.

Kelly Reardon, in a letter hand-delivered to Ethics Board Chairman K. Robert Lewis late Tuesday, said that four of the board's seven members - Lewis, Dennis Downing, Eunice Waller and Brian Giesing - should recuse themselves from deciding on Chief Margaret Ackley's complaint because their political affiliations cause conflicts of interest for them.

At Wednesday night's Ethics Board meeting at City Hall, only Giesing, a Republican candidate for City Council, recused himself from further proceedings on the Ackley-Buscetto matter.

Lewis and Downing declined to recuse themselves, and Waller was not in attendance Wednesday night.

Lewis said that a minimum of five board members must agree that Ackley's complaint against Buscetto has substance. If four of the seven members were to recuse themselves, the hearing could not take place.

Ackley filed her complaint against Buscetto in September after the City Council met in executive session to discuss her retirement contract. The chief had asked that Buscetto not take part in the executive session because, she said, he had meddled in her management of the police department.

Reardon, Buscetto's attorney, also charged Wednesday night that a Sept. 23 Ethics Board meeting was not valid. That meeting had been called to determine if there was probable cause to proceed with Ackley's complaint about Buscetto participating in the council meeting. Reardon said that Buscetto failed to get proper notice of the Ethics Board meeting.

Lewis responded that the Sept. 23 meeting, which was open to the public, was properly advertised.

In a telephone conversation after Wednesday's meeting, Reardon said that Buscetto may file a "declaration of rights" lawsuit in Connecticut Superior Court that would, in effect, appeal the ethics board's determination that there was probable cause to proceed with Ackley's complaint.

"There should be a do over," Reardon said.

Also Wednesday night, the board finalized its hearing procedure on Ackley's complaint. Hearings are scheduled to take place Nov. 16, Nov. 30 and Dec. 7.

s.chupaska@theday.com

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