NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - Former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim had his prison sentence for corruption reduced by a year for participating in a drug treatment program, but a federal judge who sentenced him is raising questions about the drug problem that allowed him to qualify.
Ganim, who led Connecticut's largest city for a decade, was released from prison in 2010 after serving nearly seven years. He now bills himself as a federal prison consultant, boasting on a website that he has special expertise with the prison drug treatment program and getting sentences reduced.
In a footnote to a ruling this week that denied Ganim's request to shorten his probation, Judge Janet Bond Arterton raised questions about the drug problem that helped him get out of prison early.
"The existence of any substance abuse problem remains a puzzlement since he made no claim of a substance abuse problem at sentencing and as a result the court waived the mandatory drug testing condition of supervised release," Arterton wrote.
Ganim's successor, John Fabrizi, admitted using cocaine while in office, but details of Ganim's drug problem have not emerged. He and his attorney did not return messages left this week, and prosecutors declined to comment.
Ganim, a Democrat, was a popular mayor, often credited with reviving Bridgeport, and he had ambitions to become governor before his arrest. In 2003, he was sentenced to nine years in prison for steering city contracts in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in expensive wine, custom clothes, cash and home improvements.
On the website, Ganim says he has personal knowledge and experience with the prison drug treatment program and getting up to a year cut off a sentence "for those that may qualify." He also cites expertise about time off a prison sentence once it has been handed down by a court.
"Let us determine if you qualify for a program that could help get you a REDUCTION IN YOUR SENTENCE — time is of the essence!" the website says. "We need to prepare you for entering, enduring and exiting the federal prison system — NO ONE can help you like we can!"
Drug problems typically come up when defendants are awaiting sentencing and are interviewed by a probation officer for a pre-sentence report. Documenting a substance abuse problem at that stage can lead a judge to recommend drug treatment, increasing the chances that an inmate will be accepted into the program and potentially get out of prison early.
To be eligible for drug treatment, inmates must have a substantiated diagnosis for a substance use disorder, according to the Bureau of Prisons. Prison officials take into account factors such as drug-related convictions, a judge's recommendation, a medical diagnosis and the pre-sentence report, said Chris Burke, a BOP spokesman.
Until 2009, prison officials considered documentation indicating substance abuse during the year prior to a defendant's incarceration. Since 2009, officials consider documentation indicating substance abuse that occurred in the year prior to arrest, Burke said.
Prison officials don't comment on specific cases involving inmates, Burke said.
After the government learned that Ganim had been admitted to the drug program, a probation officer required him to participate in an approved substance abuse treatment program while on probation.
In objecting to Ganim's request to end his probation, prosecutors wrote last September that Ganim had not shown he had complied with a requirement that he participated in substance abuse treatment and testing. Prosecutors also said at the time if had been participating in drug treatment, he should show that continued treatment and testing would be of no benefit.
Arterton cited a report last October from a substance abuse treatment program in which Ganim was deemed not to need treatment based on its criteria and Ganim's "self-report."
The judge also agreed with prosecutors that Ganim had not shown compelling circumstances to justify ending his probation early. She said that although Ganim mentored other inmates, the majority of his community service work was required to be readmitted to the bar to practice law again.
"Since Mr. Ganim likely wishes to return to public life, this work seems a logical way of re-establishing his public reputation and does not appear 'exceptional' in any way," Arterton wrote.
Ganim was convicted of 16 corruption charges, including extortion, bribery and racketeering. He was first elected in 1991 and was serving his fifth term in office when he was indicted in 2001.
Ganim flirted last year with running for mayor of Bridgeport but ultimately decided not to.
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