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Town Opposes Probation for the Ierardis

Two town officials arrested in 2007 in a corruption scandal will not have the town's support when their application for accelerated rehabilitation is heard Feb. 2 in Meriden Superior Court.

First Selectman Michael Freda said last week that the town will oppose accelerated
rehabilitation for the Ierardis, but refused to elaborate on the advice of the town counsel in this matter, Carl Porto, Sr.

Joseph and Patricia Ierardi, the former director and assistant director of the Department of Community Services & Recreation, were
accused in 2007 of using town money for illegal purposes. A supplemental audit estimated the losses to the town between 1996 and 2007 were $142,000. Defense attorneys claim the amount is much lower.

Denial of accelerated probation could mean that the Ierardis will face a court trial to defend their innocence of the criminal charges.
Approval of accelerated probation means that the charges against the Ierardis could be wiped off the record, although there could be some sort of punishment like a fine or
community service.

The Ierardis applied for
accelerated rehabilitation in
December. Attorney Tara Knight, who represents Patricia Ierardi, said the request would be heard
Feb. 2 in Meriden Superior Court. She explained that "the request for accelerated rehabilitation is a way of resolving the case short of litigation. It's not a finding of guilt. If it is not granted, then there is a chance the case can go to trial," she said.

Referring to the town's opposition, Porto said last week that "at this point, that's accurate."
Porto handled the case when Janet M. McCarty was first
selectman. Freda said he
wanted Porto to continue
handling it for the town.

Attorney Hugh F. Keefe, who represents Joseph Ierardi, did not return a call for comment.

Joseph Ierardi was charged with second-degree larceny and forgery, aiding second-degree larceny, tampering with a witness, tampering with physical evidence,and third-degree hindering prosecution.

Patricia Ierardi was charged with second-degree larceny and tampering with a witness.

Accelerated rehabilitation is a program available for people who have not been charged with a serious offense and have never been convicted of a crime. If granted, it relaxes the conditions of probation. If the person meets the conditions set by the judge and doesn't get into further trouble, the charge will be stricken from the record, Knight said.

"The person doesn't get off scot-free-there may be a fine or community service," she added.

As the victim, the town has the option of objecting to accelerated rehabilitation; however, the judge is not bound by the town's objection, Knight said.

In North Haven, Knight said, "it's a new administration and this may be the politically expedient thing to do. It doesn't ruffle anyone's feathers-it's easy to say 'No.'

"We had an analysis done that shows the Ierardis saved the town $207,000 by not claiming pensions for three years. They continued to work and saved the town considerable money," Knight said, adding, "We are not conceding that they did anything wrong. The amount they were alleged to have stolen is small potatoes by comparison."

Knight said Patricia Ierardi has retired.

"It was difficult for Pat, who had a strong work ethic," she said, adding that there were many letters of support
attesting to her "fine character."

The third person arrested in the corruption scandal, former
finance director Vincent E. Palmeri Jr., was granted
accelerated rehabilitation last year. Palmeri, however, had cooperated in the corruption
investigation.

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