Defense Rests in Perez Corruption Case | NBC Connecticut

Defense Rests in Perez Corruption Case



    The defense for Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez has rested.

    Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez will not testify in his own defense during his corruption trial.

    After putting on a defense that lasted just three days, the defense rested its case Monday morning without calling the mayor to the witness stand.

    Judge Julia Dewey questioned Perez about the decision.

    "Have you and both council, competent council, discussed what your options are?"  asked Dewey.

    "Yes,” Perez responded.

    "Is it your decision, and yours alone, not to testify in this case?" Dewey asked.

    "Yes, it is," Perez said.

    Outside court, Perez spoke briefly about the decision.  "My story's in.  The lawyers did a good job getting my story in and my story's been told," said Perez.

    Perez is charged with receiving a bribe, fabricating evidence, attempted larceny by extortion, and conspiracy.

    He's accused of getting free home renovations in 2005 from city contractor Carlos Costa in exchange for keeping Costa on the troubled Park Street project that suffered from delays and cost overruns.

    The defense says the mayor intended to pay for the work but was distracted by his wife's brain aneurysm in mid-2005.

    It took two years for the mayor to pay just half-price, and that only happened after investigators began asking questions, according to prosecutors.

    Perez is also accused of handing out no-bid, no-lease parking lot deals to north end political boss Abraham Giles, who helped secure votes for Perez during his 2007 re-election bid.  Prosecutors say the mayor demanded developer Joseph Citino "take care" of Giles, or his plan to buy a city-owned lot run by Giles wouldn't happen.

    Citino and Giles reached a deal for a $100,000 payoff.  The deal fell through after Citino says he realized Giles had no lease, and also after a newspaper reporter found out about it.

    The defense claims the mayor knew nothing about the payoff because he has problems reading, including dyslexia, and does not read all of his emails.  For that reason, he missed a key email from Citino detailing the deal, according to the defense.

    Prosecutors say the mayor repeatedly called Citino in the hours and days after that email was sent, and said he wished the deal was not in writing because it could look bad.

    Outside court, the mayor would not talk about his reading issues.  "My story's been told in court.  I got my day in court," said Perez.

    The defense called just two final witnesses on Monday morning before resting its case.

    Antonio Mouta was one of them.  Mouta testified that he did some work on the mayor's home and said he never told anyone the renovations were done quietly, as a prosecution witness asserted.

    "Did you ever tell anyone that you were supposed to keep it quiet that you were working at the mayor's house?" asked Hope Seeley, one of the mayor's defense attorneys.

    "Absolutely not," replied Mouta.

    "Did you ever tell anyone the job was being done as a favor to the mayor?" asked Seeley.

    "No, I did not," replied Mouta.

    Prosecutors pointed out one of Mouta's brothers is a big supporter of the mayor.

    After the defense wrapped up, prosecutors called one rebuttal witness. 

    John McGrane, the former assistant director of public works, responded to claims from a defense witness that the mayor never stepped in to keep Costa on the Park Street job.

    "He indicated again that the mayor did not want to have the bonding company take over the job because it could put this contractor out of business and that instead he wanted to settle the claims with Mr. Costa, claims for extra payment," said McGrane.

    Both sides indicated in court they chose not to call Giles as a witness because they were told by his attorney that he would invoke his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.  Giles also faces criminal charges related to this case.

    Closing arguments are scheduled to take place on Wednesday morning.  After that, the jurors will hear instructions from the judge and then begin their deliberations on either Wednesday or Thursday.