SEPTEMBER 02, 2009
The mayor of Connecticut’s capital city has been arrested and charged with corruption for the second time in a few months, this week for collaborating with a former state lawmaker to extort money from a developer.
Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez, a one-time gang leader serving his third term, was charged this week with attempted extortion and conspiracy. State prosecutors say the veteran Democrat tried to extort cash from a businessman seeking to develop properties in the city.
Also charged were an influential former state congressman (Abraham Giles) who is considered a Democratic Party leader in Hartford and a City Councilwoman (Veronica Airey-Wilson). Officials say the mayor and Giles tried extorting a quarter of a million dollars from a contractor who wanted to buy and develop city-owned property.
In January, Mayor Perez was charged with taking a bribe from a separate city contractor who renovated his house. The contractor, Carlos Costa, was also arrested earlier this year and the mayor’s corruption trial is scheduled to begin sometime in November.
Perez is a former community organizer and activist, who made headlines when he became Hartford’s first Latino mayor in 2001. The Puerto Rican lawmaker also serves as chairman of the Board of Education and has been labeled among the “top 100 most influential Hispanic leaders” by a popular business publication.
Like most corrupt politicians he maintains his innocence and vows to remain in office until the truth inevitably sets him free. Never the less, in a Spanish-language message to his many Hispanic supporters this week, Perez asks for (much-needed?) prayers and support amid applause and cheering from a fiery crowd.
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