Ex-chief justice admitted misstep, senator testifies
By:Alex Wood, Journal Inquirer
The morning the news broke that former state Chief Justice William J. Sullivan had delayed release of a controversial court decision to help Justice Peter Zarella's chance of being confirmed to succeed him, Sullivan appeared in the outer office of the legislature's Judiciary Committee.
The committee's Senate chairman, Andrew J. McDonald, testified Wednesday before a state disciplinary council that he agreed to meet with Sullivan, although he had ignored an attempt by the former chief justice to talk with him a short while earlier in the parking garage attached to the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.
During their meeting in his office, McDonald recalled, Sullivan admitted in blunt, locker-room language that he had made a mistake.
"I ------ up," the Stamford Democrat quoted Sullivan as saying.
That was one new detail that emerged during Wednesday's hearing of the state Judicial Review Council - held coincidentally in the Legislative Office Building - on allegations that Sullivan violated various canons of judicial ethics by delaying the release of the decision to help Zarella.
Sullivan, now a semi-retired senior justice, started to testify during the final hour of Wednesday's hearing. But he didn't discuss the allegations against him, spending the entire time detailing his personal background and the achievements of the judicial branch of state government during his more than five years as chief justice. The hearing and Sullivan's testimony are scheduled to resume Sept. 19.
Based on the cross-examination and legal arguments Sullivan's lawyers have presented so far, it appears unlikely that they will mount a serious challenge to the truth of the claim that he delayed the decision's release to aid Zarella. Their focus instead has been on whether his actions represented a violation of the state's Code of Judicial Conduct.
But the lawyers, Robert J. Cooney and Edward Maum Sheehy of Trumbull, still took their share of pokes at the credibility of Sullivan's accusers, suggesting that animosities stemming from office politics and state politics had much to do with the disciplinary case.
Accuser attackedJustice David M. Borden was the first to take the issue of Sullivan's conduct outside the private chambers of the Supreme Court, sending April 24 letters to Gov. M. Jodi Rell and legislative leaders that became public almost as soon as they reached the legislature.
After a proposal that the full court file an ethics complaint against Sullivan failed on a 3-3 tie vote, Borden filed the complaint on his own, leading to Wednesday's disciplinary hearing.
In cross-examination Wednesday, Cooney suggested that Borden may have skated close to an ethical line himself in 2004 by soliciting the filing of a "friend of the court" brief by a University of Pennsylvania law professor on a legal issue in which Borden has a particularly keen interest.
But Borden denied having done so, admitting only that University of Connecticut law Professor Paul Berman mentioned to him during a conversation over dinner that the Penn professor, Theodore Ruger, might be interested in filing a brief.
Borden said he told Berman that there is a procedure for requesting permission to file such a brief, gave him the name of the case at issue, and said Ruger should contact the court clerk.
When questions arose as to the propriety of Borden's conduct, Sullivan advised him in writing to make a full disclosure of the relevant information to the parties, adding that Borden would have to decide whether to disqualify himself from further consideration of the case.
Borden did disqualify himself but maintained that he hadn't invited the filing of the brief. He testified, however, that he apologized for the possibility that he had left that impression.
Legal approach at issueThe issue that got Borden into the scrape was an approach to interpreting statutes that he has long championed and that the Supreme Court adopted in 2003 in deciding a death-penalty issue involving Robert Courchesne, who was convicted of killing a pregnant woman and the baby born after her death in Waterbury. Courchesne later was sentenced to death.
In the Courchesne case, the court moved away from the traditional legal principle that courts should look first at the "plain meaning" of a statute and should consider other evidence, such as legislative history, only if the statute is ambiguous.
The legislature subsequently passed a law requiring the court to return to the "plain meaning" rule. The friend-of-the-court brief, which was never submitted, would have dealt with the constitutionality of that statute.
In the decision that Sullivan delayed this year, the court ruled that the state Freedom of Information Commission lacks jurisdiction over records of court cases, specifically computerized docket information.
In that same 4-3 decision, with Sullivan and Zarella among the majority, the court hinted that it might hold unconstitutional any future attempt by the legislature to control records of court cases.
But Cooney suggested in cross-examining McDonald that the senator may have been more concerned with party politics than institutional prerogatives. The defense lawyer confronted McDonald with a letter in which he and the Judiciary Committee's other co-chairman, Rep. Michael P. Lawlor, D-East Haven, suggested that Sullivan delay the effective date of his resignation until Jan. 1.
In speaking to reporters after the hearing, Cooney left no doubt what he had been driving at: Such a delay would give the governor elected in November the appointment of the new chief justice.
"Some people want a Democratic governor elected," Cooney said.©Journal Inquirer 2006
Added: Friday September 08, 2006 at 10:13 AM EST
Chief Justice Sullivan should be arrested
Misstep, my [bleep]
If an official breaks the law it is a misstep, if a private citizen dared so seriously breach the US Constitution or the law, he or she could expect to be arrested and do time.
Judges should not be above the law.
If Judges weren't responsible for giving high and mighty officials immunity from prosecution, there would be so much less corruption in Connecticut.
Rowland would not have dared to do all he did. He did do time, but if a private citizen did all Rowland did and wasn't mob connected like his judge and cronies are alleged to be, someone other than Rowland would have spent decades or even the rest of their life in prison.
Chief Justice Sullivan needs to be arrested. Until he is and punished correctly using the law, judges, prosecutors, police, and other officials will continue to rip off the public, break the law, and retaliate against citizens that dare ask for officials to act in the public's best interest.
Hang 'em high, arrest 'em, or just do something.
Steven G. Erickson, Tinfoilhatville(Stafford), CT
The above found here
on the web
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* * * *Former Vernon officer sent to prison for revealing drug investigations
By:Ethan Fry, Journal Inquirer, 09/07/2006
VERNON - A Superior Court judge sent a former town police officer to prison for 18 months Wednesday on charges that the ex-officer revealed confidential information about drug probes to his then-girlfriend and illegally accessed police computer databases.
The former officer, John Troland, 30, had pleaded guilty in June to third-degree computer crime and pleaded under the Alford doctrine to interfering with police.
Though Tolland County State's Attorney Matthew C. Gedansky said those charges are "about as innocuous sounding as possible," the prosecutor said Troland put his fellow officers in "untold danger" danger and placed "many lives in jeopardy" when he gave his girlfriend secret information about drug investigations.
In accordance with a plea deal in the case, Troland faced a maximum of two years behind bars at Wednesday's sentencing before Judge Terence A. Sullivan. Gedansky asked the judge to impose the two-year term, calling it "extremely lenient."
"These are not isolated incidents," Gedansky said.
"This is a pervasive pattern of abuse by someone in a position of trust."
Troland's lawyer, Robert Britt, asked Sullivan to give Troland a suspended jail sentence and probation with "rigid conditions," saying the stigma of his convictions would "offer a lifetime" of punishment and deterence.
Britt said Troland had been "scared straight every day for the past year and a half," adding that if Troland were sent to jail, he'd be "a constant target."
The ex-officer's lawyer said that Troland accepted responsibility for his wrongdoing, and Troland apologized to the judge, saying he "took great pride in serving the town."
"I can see that I put myself in a very reckless situation," Troland said.
"I clearly used poor judgment. I feel horrible about it. I simply just want the opportunity to get on with my life."
But though Sullivan agreed with both Gedansky and Britt that Troland's reckless behavior "was not designed to harm anybody," the judge said his actions were "nevertheless very harmful."
"It's perfectly clear to this court at least that not only have you disgraced yourself, but you've dishonored the men and women of the Vernon Police Department," Sullivan said.
The judge said that though a suspended jail sentence might deter Troland, "it's not going to deter anybody else," and that others have to know that if they do the same thing they will receive "the same punishment or worse."
"This is behavior that cannot be tolerated in a civilized society," Sullivan said before imposing a four-year prison sentence, suspended after 18 months, with four years of probation.
After Troland is released from prison, Sullivan ordered him not to possess any weapons, have no contact with the Vernon Police Department, not seek reinstatement as an officer there or work in any other law enforcement capacity anywhere, and maintain full-time employment or school.
Troland, who joined the Police Department in January 1998, resigned last July, when he was arrested on charges of eight counts each of interfering with police and second-degree reckless endangerment, 108 counts of third-degree computer crime, and two counts of false entry by an officer.
Police began investigating Troland last April after his ex-girlfirend, Sherri Lane-Cheema, went to police and said that Troland had threatened to kill her.Though police eventually determined Lane-Cheema's allegations of threats made by Troland could not be substantiated, claims she made about Troland providing her with information about the East Central Narcotics Task Force were corroborated by other witnesses, a police affidavit said.
Between March 2004 and February 2005, the affidavit said, Troland provided Lane-Cheema, who had been arrested on a crack-selling charge in East Hartford about seven years ago, with intimate knowledge of several different task force operations. On at least two occasions the subjects of task force investigations were tipped off with information that Troland had given her.
Lane-Cheema also told police that Troland would use the state police computer system to see when one of her old boyfriends would be getting out of jail, an affidavit said.
In court Wednesday Gedansky said Troland used the system to run 31 checks on Lane-Cheema, 18 checks on her father, four checks on a prospective girlfriend, and three checks on an ex-girlfriend©Journal Inquirer 2006
Added: Friday September 08, 2006 at 01:12 PM EST
The truth about John Troland
I am John's best friend, and all I have to say is this..... Don't believe everything you hear! John is a wonderful man, who did not deserve this. I am ashamed of the town of Vernon, as well as the police dept, judge, and prosecutor for their complete lack of compassion in this case. John made a huge mistake, but he is a good man, and by NO means deserves to be sent to prison! His Family and I are standing by his side, and will be here to welcome him with open arms when this is all over! I Love you, John, and miss you more than you will ever know! -Jillian Stafford-!
Jillian Stafford, manchester, CT
The above found here
on the web
* * * *
* * * *added at approx 11:30 PM Sept. 10, 2006 EST:Flag Waving and Charlie Daniels
I am watching Fox News live now, and Charlie Daniels was playing with the pictures of the Twin Towers, the WTC, in the background along with other shots. There is a lot of flag waving and seemingly a call to arms. The two sides of the equation are polar opposites. I can’t believe I was so willing to accept so many US government lies.
Judges in Connecticut can do as they please and I don’t believe there is American freedom. Yes, other nations have far more abusive and greedy regimes, but the US could do better. Supreme Court Judges and all judges in all states should face elections and arrests and punishment if they break the law. The law applies to everyone or it is not law.
9-11 to me is being taken advantage of by those in Connecticut State government that wanted to squash my Free Speech and hold me as a political prisoner for contacting elected officials proposing laws making police and judges to act in the public’s best interest with Civilian Oversight. Connecticut is not the USA, but so many of the rich and powerful dictate to the rest of the the US and to the world just because they are richer, they think they are better. Let’s send these Blue Blood assholes a message.
It would be pretty convenient for the rights takers to allow the WTC buildings to be hit. They then would have unlimited power and covert ability to rip off America and all the other nations that are buying the current administration’s absolute line of crap.
Loving your nation is also about ACTING for one’s nation. Questioning authority, the money they are spending, and what they are doing to the world is needed in larger numbers. Stand up and be counted, don’t be silent.
-Steven G. Erickson a.k.a. blogger VikingasA Connecticut Supreme Court Chief Justice says piss on your US Constitution, moreCrapulent CourtsAn Email sent to the Connecticut GovernorPast CIA Buds, CT Congressman Simmons and Papa Bush?
* * * *
* * * *added Sept. 12, 2006, 9:30 AM EST:
POLITICSRowland-Era Figure To Be Sentenced Piotrowski Lied About His Role In Steering Contract
September 11, 2006 By EDMUND H. MAHONY, Hartford Courant Staff Writer
A former state public works officer who acted as a go-between in the contract-steering scandal that contributed to the collapse of the Rowland administration could be sentenced to as much as 10 months in prison when he appears in federal court in New Haven today.
Richard F. Piotrowski is accused of lying to federal authorities about delivering a message from former Rowland co-chief of staff Peter N. Ellef Sr. to members of a state committee that selects government contractors. The message: Ellef wanted a company owned by the politically connected Tomasso family to be given a multimillion-dollar state contract to manage construction of a jail for teenaged boys in Middletown.
Piotrowski has pleaded guilty to two counts of making a false statement: He lied both about the message delivered in behalf of Ellef and about thousands of dollars in gifts he accepted from businessmen hoping to get work from his agency. Piotrowski, 61, retired as the public works department's chief of facilities, design and construction in late 2003 and is collecting a monthly pension of $3,078.
Today's sentencing suggests that the FBI, IRS and federal prosecutors have finished sorting through another piece of evidence in the years-long contract-steering and corruption case that already has sent Ellef, William A. Tomasso and former Gov. John G. Rowland to prison. But several sources have said the investigation is continuing.
Federal prosecutors said as much last spring when they disclosed they were continuing to examine allegations of wrongdoing by unidentified figures associated with the Rowland administration.
A variety of sources have said that Piotrowski's then-boss, former state Commissioner of Public Works Theodore Anson, is among those figures.
Prosecution documents filed publicly in federal court say that Piotrowski was told by one of the few public works officials senior to him that Ellef wanted to make sure the contract for the Connecticut Juvenile Training School went to TBI, a Tomasso family construction unit.
"The DPW official emphasized to Piotrowski that it was important to Ellef that TBI get the project," the documents say.
Neither Piotrowski nor the prosecutors will identify the public works official who passed along the message from Ellef. However, Anson was one of two DPW officials senior to Piotrowski who was involved in the training school contract. Anson's role in the process has been closely examined by FBI and IRS agents.
Anson could not be reached Sunday.
Anson, a Rowland appointee at public works, resigned in September 2003 after it was disclosed that he accepted free architectural drawings for a $190,000 addition to his Bridgewater home from Kaestle Boos Associates of New Britain. Kaestle Boos is an architectural firm that was closely associated with Tomasso companies.
When Piotrowski was told about Ellef's support for the Tomassos on the Middletown project, he was one of five members of a public works committee appointed to select a construction manager for the training school.
Piotrowski told the unidentified senior public works official he would convey Ellef's message to other committee members, according to federal prosecutors. According to prosecution documents filed in federal court, the committee members voted on April 23, 1999, to award the contract to the Tomassos after getting the message from Piotrowski. When he pleaded guilty in June, Piotrowski said he initially lied about his role in steering the training school contract during an interview with authorities on June 19, 2003.
Piotrowski also admitted at the time that he lied again to federal investigators, in May and July of 2003, about gifts he accepted in return for favors he did or was expected to do for businessmen hoping to win state contracts. According to information filed in federal court, Piotrowski substantially understated the number of gifts he received. Neither Piotrowski nor federal prosecutors would detail the number or type of gifts.
However, sources familiar with the matter said they involved champagne and meals that, collectively, were valued at less than $10,000. Under the sentencing guidelines used in federal court, Piotrowski faces a prison sentence of from four to 10 months and a fine of from $1,000 to $10,000. Ellef and Tomasso pleaded guilty to corruption-related charges in October 2005.
In April, Dorsey sentenced both men to 30 months in prison.
Rowland was sentenced to a year and a day in prison on unrelated corruption charges.
* * * *added Sept. 23, 2006, 8:21 PM EST:Judge Orders State To Pay Contractor Is Eligible For $1.2 Million Payment Even Though It Refused To Cooperate In Legislative Probe
September 23, 2006 By JON LENDER, Hartford Courant Staff Writer
A judge has ordered the state to fork over a $1.2 million payment that officials had been withholding from a construction contractor who gave a controversial $5,000-a-month consulting contract to ex-Gov. John G. Rowland in 2004 and then refused to cooperate with a legislative probe into it.
Superior Court Judge Joseph M. Shortall ruled this week that state officials cannot justify withholding the money from C.R. Klewin Northeast LLC on the basis of company executives' resistance to a legislative committee's investigation of lucrative consulting jobs that Rowland got from state contractors after he resigned in July 2004.
"The court ... sees nothing wrong with the subject of a legislative inquiry raising legal questions about the jurisdiction and authority of the particular committee to conduct the proposed inquiry," Shortall wrote in a decision dated Wednesday.
He added that state officials, represented by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, "have failed to submit anything that would support their claim that the court should ... deny Klewin ...."Shortall ordered state Public Works Commissioner James T. Fleming and Comptroller Nancy Wyman to arrange within 60 days to pay Klewin, a Norwich-based contractor, the $1.2 million that it is owed under a construction settlement negotiated by state officials in late 2004 - before public disclosure that Klewin had hired Rowland in July of that year.
Blumenthal said Friday he disagrees with the judge's ruling but will not decide whether to appeal until consulting the office of Gov. M. Jodi Rell. A Rell spokesman said the governor "hasn't had a chance to review the decision."
Klewin's lawyer, Eliot B. Gersten, said Friday:
"The attorney general's office spent a lot of money in an effort to punish Klewin for challenging the legislature. Fortunately the court recognized that agreements are made to be performed."
The controversy dates to Klewin's 2001 claim for $2.7 million in what it said were extra costs incurred in doing major construction and renovations at Manchester Community College. Public Works officials and Klewin reached their $1.2-million compromise in late 2004.
The offices of Rell and Blumenthal later signed off on authorizations to settle and pay the claim.However, then federal prosecutors disclosed in March 2005 that Rowland got lucrative consulting work from Klewin and another state contractor soon after his July 2004 resignation.
The prosecutors - saying Rowland should receive a stiffer prison sentence on a corruption conviction than the year-and-a-day he got - revealed that in November 2004, Rowland contacted a UConn official to try to settle a separate dispute over a Klewin construction contract at UConn.
That touched off months of controversy in 2005 - including the legislative hearings and an unsuccessful attempt by then-Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano to obtain a warrant for Rowland's arrest on an ethics charge.
The state legislature's government administration and elections committee began hearings in May 2005. Klewin representatives went to court to fight the committee's subpoenas. Earlier this year, a judge upheld the legislative subpoenas, but the matter is under appeal.
Meanwhile Klewin never got the $1.2 million officials had agreed to - and in December, the firm filed its court action against Rell, Fleming and Wyman.Blumenthal fought that effort by questioning Rowland's relationship with Klewin. He argued that the consulting arrangement may have violated the state's "revolving door" statute.
Shortall wrote that the state's defense boiled down to one claim - that Klewin's "refusal to cooperate with the GAE committee's investigation is sufficient cause" to deny the payment.But Shortall didn't see it that way.
He also found that "the record ... makes it clear beyond question that Mr. Rowland had nothing whatever to do with " the $1.2-million settlement "which is at issue in this case.
"The settlement "gives Klewin a clear legal right to payment" and "creates a corresponding, mandatory duty" by Fleming and Wyman to pay, Shortall wrote.
Contact Jon Lender at firstname.lastname@example.org.This post accepts anonymous comments. To share this post, click on white envelope.This blogger's email: email@example.com