Hartford ex-mayor pleads guilty, avoids prison in corruption case

HARTFORD — Former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez pleaded guilty to corruption charges but avoided prison time Thursday, a year after the Connecticut Supreme Court overturned his convictions and ordered new trials.

Perez, Hartford's first Hispanic mayor and a Democrat who served from 2001 to 2010, pleaded guilty in Superior Court to bribe receiving and larceny by extortion. Judge Julia Dewey sentenced him to an eight-year suspended prison term and released him with certain conditions, The Hartford Courant reported.

Prosecutors had proposed a sentence of three years' probation as part of a plea bargain. The judge said Perez had kept out of trouble and worked in the community while he remained free on bond during his appeals — a period she compared with probation.

Perez was convicted in 2010 and sentenced to three years in prison for taking a bribe from a contractor in the form of $40,000 worth of home improvements and attempting to extort $100,000 from a developer, both while he was mayor. But the state Supreme Court overturned the convictions last year, saying two cases were improperly combined into one trial.

Perez declined to comment after the court hearing. His lawyer, Hubert Santos, said Perez was "happy" that the years-long case had come to an end.

"I've been representing him since 2007 and we had the grand jury proceeding, we had the first trial, we had the appeal, we had the second appeal, and now these proceedings," Santos said. "He's incurred over a million dollars in legal fees; he's had a hard time with employment. Now he wants to get back to his wife, his children, his grandchildren and put an end to this endless litigation."

But Perez still faces the possible loss of his city pension in a lawsuit brought by the state. State law allows for the revocation of corrupt public officials' retirement benefits.

Prosecutor Michael Gailor said in court that the state accepted the no-prison sentence because "Perez is willing to stand up and accept responsibility." He also said the state will avoid two more corruption trials and the associated costs.

 

 

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