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New Haven - The new head of the FBI in Connecticut said Wednesday that investigating public corruption is a top priority for her in a state where a wave of scandals brought down numerous officials years ago.
Patricia M. Ferrick, who was appointed special agent in charge of the New Haven Division in September, said Wednesday that the FBI is in the best position to investigate corruption and that she told staff she wants them to proactively investigate it.
"You have to look for corruption to find it," Ferrick said Wednesday during an interview in her office with The Associated Press. "It doesn't walk in the door. I made it pretty clear to my staff that is a priority for me."
Ferrick predicted "there will be some press on corruption" during her tenure.
Government scandals in Connecticut a decade ago brought down former Gov. John G. Rowland, his top aide and a major contractor, as well as two mayors of large cities and their associates. The scandals led to a derisive nickname for the state: Corrupticut.
More recently, eight people have been convicted in a scandal involving nearly $28,000 in illegal contributions to former state House Speaker Christopher Donovan's failed congressional campaign last year. Donovan wasn't charged and denied wrongdoing, but his aides acknowledged the scandal derailed his campaign.
Financial fraud prosecutions have been among the priorities of the U.S. attorney's office in recent years.
While in Washington, Ferrick served as the supervisory special agent of public corruption and civil rights investigations in Northern Virginia and was later named chief of the Public Corruption Unit at FBI headquarters.
Ferrick most recently served as acting special agent in charge of the Milwaukee Division.
Since she arrived in Connecticut, the FBI assisted local authorities in responding to gun scares at three universities in recent months. Ferrick said she plans to meet with all the police chiefs in the state and that the FBI will be proactive in responding to such incidents rather than waiting to be called.
The FBI is updating its crisis response plan to make sure all understand their role in such situations, Ferrick said.
Ferrick said she's also meeting with executives and security officers of major companies in the state to address concerns such as cybercrime. She noted that Connecticut is home to companies such as General Electric and United Technologies, which makes Black Hawk helicopters.