Haberek legal foe seeks up to $500,000 of official's assets

Stonington - A New London Superior Court judge has slated a Sept. 9 hearing on whether Tracy Swain can attach up to $500,000 of First Selectman Ed Haberek's assets before her lawsuit against him goes to trial.

Attorneys for both Swain and Haberek, though, said Thursday the hearing could be moved to another day if it is expected to take a significant amount of time.

Swain's attorney, Scott Camassar and Haberek's attorney, Dado Coric, are expected to be busy later that week as depositions are slated to be taken of Haberek and Swain on Sept. 12. The day before that, depositions are scheduled for the town's former information technology director Jason Jones and retired director of administrative services George Sylvestre. Attorneys have been trying to take the depositions since March, but there have been several postponements.

In her suit, Swain alleges Haberek sent her a "sexually graphic photo of himself" using his town-issued BlackBerry while in his Town Hall office on the night of Jan. 12, 2010.

In months leading up to the alleged incident, both Swain and Haberek acknowledge exchanging numerous emails, text messages and Facebook messages. Swain said that when she tried to cut off the conversations, Haberek sent her the photo. Haberek has denied sending her the image.

Swain, who says the experience has caused her continuing emotional distress and physical illness such as migraine headaches, has stated in a motion for the prejudgement remedy that there is probable cause a court will render a judgment in her favor. She is asking a judge to attach $500,000 of his assets in case his insurance does not cover damages she receives.

Coric said he is welcoming the hearing on the prejudgement remedy request, saying a lot of important information will come out at the hearing.

"I'm confident that when this case is over, the bulk of the allegations and certainly the most important ones will clearly be proven to be baseless," he said. "(Haberek) has denied the allegations and he looks forward to his day in court to show they are not true."

Coric added that it is a shame these type of allegations are made about public figures, especially one who he said is as well-liked as Haberek.

Haberek is seeking re-election to a fourth term in November.

"But you can't prevent stuff like this from being said in a free society," he said.

Coric added that he hopes people will wait to hear all the evidence before making any judgment.

He also responded to a claim in the motion for the prejudgment remedy, originally filed in May, that there is reason to believe that Haberek and wife Maureen had separated, plan to be divorced and that Haberek may be attempting to sell their Moss Street home and other property.

The motion alleged that the couple would file for divorce in Rhode Island "in attempt to hide the action from the public and plaintiff" and prevent Swain from attaching the home and other assets in the event Haberek is ordered to pay damages to her. It added the divorce filing is an attempt "to shield or dispose of assets" in case Haberek does not have adequate insurance to pay the award.

Coric stressed that just because Swain has made such allegations in her court filings does not mean they are true or reflect any sense of reality.

"People can make whatever allegations they want," he said.

Coric said he was not aware of any divorce action and that being residents of Connecticut, Rhode Island courts would not have any jurisdiction over the Habereks as far as he knows.

In November, a judge rejected the town's attempt to get itself removed from the lawsuit. That ruling meant the case could proceed.

Camassar has offered the town two ways to get out of the lawsuit, but those involved Haberek admitting to Swain's allegation of the photo or turning over potential evidence in the case. The town's insurance company is providing an attorney to represent it. The company would likely pay damages, if any are awarded, according to town officials.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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