Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A Blow Job, A Governor, And a State's Police For Sale










Heather Specyalski










Neil Esposito


Connecticut News:

Specyalski Lawsuits Set To Go To Trial
January 4, 2006 By ALAINE GRIFFIN, Hartford Courant Staff Writer

Nearly two years ago, a Superior Court jury in Middletown cleared Heather Specyalski of criminal charges in the October 1999 high-speed crash that killed her boyfriend, Hartford-area businessman Neil Esposito.

Now, unless last-minute, pretrial mediation leads to a settlement, the question of who was driving the car - the core issue of the emotionally charged spring 2004 criminal trial - will again come before jurors, this time in a civil courtroom.

Esposito's leased Mercedes-Benz crashed off a Route 9 exit ramp in Cromwell on Oct. 30, 1999. Esposito, 42, an influential Rocky Hill businessman known in the Hartford area for his philanthropy, and Specyalski had just left a Halloween fundraiser he sponsored at a Middletown restaurant.

Esposito, 42, was killed. Specyalski, then 29, was seriously injured. Neither was wearing a seat belt and tests showed both were under the influence of alcohol.

The legal battle over damages begins Friday with jury selection in Superior Court in Waterbury, where two pending lawsuits were consolidated under the state's complex litigation docket.

Specyalski sued Esposito's estate in 2000, alleging that he was the driver. In 2001, Esposito's father, Raymond, executor of his son's $20 million estate, filed a countersuit against Specyalski. Both Specyalski and the Esposito estate are suing Mercedes-Benz Credit Corp. The cases will be tried simultaneously.The Mercedes-Benz car involved in the crash was leased through the Espositos' trash-hauling business, which was then called Rubbish Removal of Hartford.

Mercedes-Benz claims it has no responsibility to pay damages to the estate since Esposito's company signed a lease agreeing to indemnify Mercedes.

Though testimony is due to start at the end of the month, it's possible a settlement may be reached during court-ordered mediation sessions scheduled for today and Thursday.

A mediated settlement would avoid what threatens to be a complicated civil trial. Damages will be considered only after the question of liability has been settled.

A settlement would spare Esposito's family and Specyalski, a former model and divorced mother who has undergone numerous surgeries for her injuries from the crash, , what is likely to be an agonizing rehash of Esposito's death and the sensational 2004 criminal trial.

Specyalski's legal defense in that trial raised national eyebrows with its assertion that she was performing oral sex on Esposito while he was driving. Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh, who dubbed it a "Lewinsky defense," talked about it on the radio and Specyalski's name began turning up on adult websites.

The 19-day case also stirred corruption allegations already bubbling for former Gov. John G. Rowland at the Capitol with claims that the arrest of Specyalski, who was initially absolved from wrongdoing in the crash, came about because of the Espositos' political influence.

Esposito and his father were political campaign contributors to Rowland and others. Legislators in 2000 voted to name a bridge on I-91 in Wethersfield the Neil Esposito Memorial Bridge."As you can imagine, it's very painful for them," Stanley Jacobs, lawyer for the Esposito family, said.

"It's one of the worst things that can happen in a family. One of the reasons I feel we should try mediation is to try to avoid causing them more pain."

Shelley L. Graves, Specyalski's attorney, has said her client is open to negotiations to avoid a trial.During past settlement talks, the parties have been "quite far apart," Jacobs said.

But he said he's still hopeful."If everyone goes in there with a desire to effectuate a settlement, there will be some chance," Jacobs said.

"Sometimes [mediation] can be fruitful. It just depends on the attitudes of people."Two weeks after Specyalski sued Esposito's estate in November 2000, state police reversed their original finding and said that Specyalski, not Esposito, was driving that night.

was charged with manslaughter. Esposito's estate countersued Specyalski in January 2001 for damages, saying she caused the crash.

Specyalski's lawsuit was supported by the initial state police investigation, which found that Esposito was driving, based on the position of bodies and other evidence.

But then-Public Safety Commissioner Henry C. Lee reopened the case at the insistence of Raymond Esposito, who sent a letter to state police about inconsistencies.

Jo McKenzie, Rowland's longtime aide and political confidante, testified that she personally contacted Lee about reopening the case after a member of the Esposito family called her for help.

The criminal trial also led to the suspension and eventual retirement of the associate state medical examiner, Arkady Katsnelson, who, as a state witness, testified that he accepted $300 to provide advice to Esposito's family for their civil lawsuit against Specyalski.

After deliberating for less than an hour, the jury on April 29, 2004, acquitted Specyalski of manslaughter charges, sparing her a possible 25-year prison sentence.

Jurors were swayed by defense testimony about how Specyalski suffered an injury on her left thigh.

The defense expert said the injury could only have been caused by the car's gearshift, on the car's center console, digging into her leg when she was thrown from the passenger seat. That expert was one of several in the criminal case who offered contradictory theories on who was driving.

Those differing expert opinions raised doubts about whether Specyalski was driving, the jurors said.

In a criminal case, jurors must agree that a person is guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt" to convict. In a civil case, jurors rule in favor of a party if they find that a "preponderance of the evidence" would lead a reasonable person to conclude that a particular scenario is probably true.

As in the criminal case, the civil trial will rely on a long list of witnesses. Lawyers for Esposito are counting on a new lineup of scientific experts, with elaborate video presentations, to convince jurors Esposito was the passenger.

"This case is so complicated, I can't even count the number of witnesses," Jacobs said.

"There are computer simulations planned that you don't normally see in trials. If it's tried, I wouldn't be surprised if it went into March."Jacobs said more than 50 depositions were taken in the case, more, he said, than he has ever seen used in a trial in his 55 years of practice.

If mediation goes sour this week, lawyers on Friday will take up the challenge of seating a six-member jury and alternates who are not familiar with the case.

"We're all sort of hopeful that can be done rather quickly," Jacobs said.

"But I'm not sure how realistic that is."

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If the Patriot Act was in place sooner would Connecticut’s Governor Rowland still be Governor? Would Arthur L. Spada still be Connecticut’s Top Cop? Would anyone that reported corrupt officials, bribery, police perjury, corrupt business practices of corporate/State Government connected criminals, police, judicial, and prosecutorial misconduct, been falsely arrested and held as political prisoners in even greater numbers if the Patriot Act was in place at an earlier time? Would reporters and other citizens be so afraid of speaking out about the truth without the Patriot Act?
-Steven G. Erickson aka Vikingas


4 Comments:

Anonymous Rich Murzin said...

Steve,

When you have enough money you can buy a new Police investigation and have a section of the Highway named after you.
He still got caught with his pants down.How undignified!!

Imagine naming a section of the highway after a drunk driver.
What a role model.
Who's idea was that?

Rich Murzin

Thursday, January 12, 2006 12:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SHE WAS DRIVING THE CAR YOU CLOWNS

Saturday, December 08, 2012 2:19:00 PM  
Blogger Jovi Girl said...

Did you not read the entire article?? It was not possible for her to sustain those injuries from the driver seat you turd

Saturday, May 10, 2014 9:45:00 AM  
Blogger Waksupi said...

Speed should not have been a factor in the accident. Whenever I have got oral sex while driving, I have found I slow considerably, especially as I get closer to cumming.

Thursday, September 08, 2016 9:41:00 AM  

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