Hartford, Conn. (WTNH) - Eddie Perez says he will be stepping down as the mayor of Hartford during his appeal process following his conviction on corruption charges.
The jury found that Mayor Perez accepted a bribe in the form of $40,000 in home improvements to protect a city contractor, Carlos Costa, who was in danger of being fired by the public works department. He also tried to extort $100,000 cash from a developer to help win the favor of North End political broker, Abe Giles.
Mayor Perez, a Democrat, was convicted of:
- Larceny in the First Degree by Extortion,
- Criminal Attempt to Commit Larceny in the First Degree by Extortion
- Bribe Receiving
- Conspiracy to Commit Fabrication of Evidence
- Accessory to Fabrication of Physical Evidence
He was found not guilty on the count of fabricating evidence. "It was a long hard investigation, a long hard trial. It was good team work, everyone worked very hard on it," said Kevin Kane the Chief State's Attorney.
In a statement issued a few hours after his conviction, Perez says he intends to appeal the verdict and that it is "not in the best interests of the City and my family to continue my duties as Mayor during the appeal."
City Council President Pedro Segarra will become Mayor. "I think the results that we produce in the Mayor's office and what Council produces and what results that are visible to the people of Hartford, that is what will restore the public trust," said Segarra. "We have to now put our actions behind what we say."
When asked about the events of the entire day, Segarra agreed that it has been quite a day. "It has been a big day, it's been a tiring day, and I'm not disappointed. The wheels of justice have turned and the jury has given its verdict. It's been a legal conclusion so it has been a very difficult day for not just myself but for everyone else."
Perez will be sentenced on September 10.
Here is Perez's full statement:
Today's verdict was a tremendous disappointment to me and my family. Anyone who has followed my forty year career of public service knows that I have never placed personal financial gain before the needs of my community or my city. I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support I have received from the residents of the City of Hartford during this difficult period. I am truly sorry for any actions that may have harmed the image and reputation of our community.
I intend to appeal today's verdict. I believe that under further review by the courts, today's decision will be overturned.
I have decided that it is not in the best interests of the City and my family for me to continue my duties as Mayor during the appeal of my case. I will formally notify the City Council shortly of my decision to relinquish my duties.
It has been a great honor and privilege to serve the people of this great city as Mayor. Since my election in 2001, we have rebuilt and reinvigorated our schools, significantly reduced crime, created hundreds of new homeownership opportunities, reshaped the face of public housing, revitalized downtown, improved the quality of life in our neighborhoods and made city government more responsive and efficient. As a community, our legacy of progress is tangible, concrete and visible in every city neighborhood. I am proud of what we have accomplished together and I urge all residents of our City to keep that progress moving forward.
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