Former Bridgeport police chief Armando "A.J." Perez was sentenced in federal court in New York City Monday to 12 months and one day in prison for his role in a scheme to ensure he would be hired as the city's top cop.
A judge also sentenced him to two years of supervised release, 100 hours of community service, and fines.
Perez and Bridgeport's former acting personnel director, David Dunn, resigned in September and pleaded guilty the following month to defrauding the city and making false statements to FBI agents.
Perez, 65, who had a nearly four-decade career with Bridgeport police, admitted to receiving confidential information about the police chief’s examination stolen by Dunn, including the questions for an oral examination and the scoring guide for written essays. He also admitted that he had two officers complete his essays, passed the work off as his own and lied to federal authorities in an effort to cover up his actions.
He ended up being ranked among the top three candidates for the police chief's job and was appointed by Mayor Joe Ganim, who has been close to Perez for years. Ganim, who served seven years in prison for corruption during his first stint as mayor from 1991 to 2003, has denied wrongdoing in Perez's appointment and has not been charged.
Perez's lawyer, Robert Frost Jr., wrote in a sentencing recommendation that Perez was facing severe consequences from the scandal that do not involve prison time, including public shame, liquidation of most of his life savings to pay the $300,000 restitution and health problems including hypertension that make him him susceptible to severe complications from COVID-19 if he gets infected.
The state attorney general's office also has gone to court seeking to revoke Perez and Dunn's city pensions under state corruption laws.
“A.J. is deserving of punishment for his crimes, but he is being punished already,” Frost wrote. “Today, instead of living out his retirement as a pillar of his community with the distinction of being the first Hispanic Chief of Police of the City of Bridgeport, A.J. faces his retirement years as a pariah and litigation target.”
Prosecutors said the sentencing of prison time was deserved.
“Former Chief Perez schemed to rig the search for a permanent police chief to ensure the position was awarded to him, and then he repeatedly lied to federal agents in order to conceal his conduct," U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a release. "Today’s sentence sends a strong message that public officials will be held accountable when they corruptly put their own self-interest above their duties to faithfully serve their citizens."