A prosecutor portrayed Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez as a liar while trying to convince a jury on Wednesday that the mayor is guilty of corruption.
Closing arguments in Perez's trial were being presented at Hartford Superior Court and deliberations were expected to begin later Wednesday or Thursday.
Prosecutor Michael Gailor told the jury that Perez backed away from the alleged extortion attempt only after the media and others began looking into it, saying the mayor was worried about getting caught. Authorities also say Perez paid for the home improvements only after investigators questioned him.
Perez denies allegations that he accepted a bribe in the form of home improvements from a city contractor and tried to extort $250,000 from a developer who wanted to buy city-owned property.
A lawyer for Perez, who didn't take the stand during his trial, was to give his closing argument later Wednesday.
Perez gave a brief statement before heading into the courtroom.
"I'm just looking forward to getting back to a normal life and being a good mayor," he said.
Perez was arrested in January 2009 on allegations that he received a bribe from contractor Carlos Costa by paying $20,000 for $40,000 worth of kitchen and bathroom renovations at his home, and only after he was questioned by a grand jury.
Costa told authorities he didn't expect to get paid for the home improvements because that was the "cost of me doing business with the city," according to an arrest warrant affidavit. Costa was also charged; his case is pending.
According to warrants, Perez repeatedly intervened in matters to help Costa, such as by pressing city workers to pay Costa's bills faster than other municipal contractors.
In exchange for the home renovations, Perez leaned on city officials to keep Costa on a renovation project despite their desire to remove him, Gailor told the jury.
Perez's attorney, Hubert Santos, has said pushing the city to pay legitimate bills is not a crime. Santos also said Perez always planned to pay for the home renovations but was distracted when his wife collapsed in 2005 and underwent months of treatment for brain aneurysms.
Perez was arrested again in September, when state authorities charged him and former state Rep. Abraham Giles, of Hartford, with attempted extortion and conspiracy.
Giles has denied the charges; the criminal case against him is pending.
Prosecutors allege that Perez and Giles attempted to extort $250,000 from developer Joseph Citino, who wanted to buy and develop city-owned property that included a large, dilapidated building.
Giles leased a parking lot on the property from the city for $500 a month and subleased it to a parking company for $2,250 a month, according to an affidavit.
The mayor eventually arranged for Citino to pay Giles $100,000 as part of the sale, but the deal never went through, prosecutors allege.