A state judge has revoked the public pension of former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez, a year and a half after Perez pleaded guilty to two corruption-related offenses stemming from his time in office.
Despite Perez’s history of service to the city, and despite the severity of an illness suffered by the former mayor’s wife, Judge Cesar Noble said nevertheless he was compelled to revoke the former mayor’s pension. He issued his decision earlier this week.
“The severity of the crimes, the self dealing and disdain for the public good demonstrated by his conduct, as well as the high degree of public trust reposed in the defendant, outweigh any factors mitigating his crimes,” Noble wrote, “including any good work done for the city, the financial impact on the defendant and his wife or her illness.”
Perez was first convicted in 2010 in two schemes. In one, he took deeply discounted work on his home from a city contractor; in another, he tried to extort a city developer. Those convictions were eventually overturned after a lengthy legal process, with a ruling from the Connecticut Supreme Court in 2016 that Perez’s two cases shouldn’t have been tried as one. But, in 2017, facing the prospect of two new trials, Perez pleaded guilty to two felony corruption charges.
The state then moved to revoke the former mayor’s nearly $28,000 annual pension, which led to a trial late last year. In court in November, state lawyers argued that Perez should have his pension reduced or revoked because of the severity of the crime and his abuse of public office. Meanwhile, lawyers for Perez argued that, even though Perez shouldn’t have used his political power for his personal gain, there was no economic loss to the city.
But, in deciding the pension case, Noble wasn’t swayed by Perez’s defense. In the case of the discounted home renovations, Perez eventually paid just over $20,000 for work estimated at nearly twice that. The work was done by a city contractor who was, around the same time, falling down on a city job on Park Street. But, when the city initiated a claim against the contractor, Perez intervened on his behalf and reversed course -- keeping him in business.
In his decision, Noble wrote that the former mayor “was prepared to, and in fact did, endanger a public project in a distressed neighborhood for his personal benefit.”
Noble also wrote that Perez didn’t help his case by lying to state investigators about whether he had paid for that work.
In the second scheme -- attempted larceny by extortion -- Noble said Perez admitted that he tried to coerce a city businessman to pay off an influential city politician.
“It should not be necessary to remark that such behavior not only insults public integrity but also harms the public good,” Noble wrote.
Perez is reportedly considering a challenge to current Mayor Luke Bronin. Immediate efforts to reach Perez’s attorney late Wednesday were unsuccessful.