Curcio: ‘I Hosted A Finch Fundraiser’

In the summer of 2007 State Senator Bill Finch, the Democratic-endorsed candidate for mayor facing a stiff challenge from State Rep. Chris Caruso, was thrown a fundraiser at Cafe Roma, a now-closed city restaurant on Fairfield Avenue downtown. Dozens of political operatives and usual-suspect campaign contributors attended the event that raised a boatload of cash for Finch.

One of the hosts of the event was Manny Moutinho, a city contractor who’s come under review by federal authorities for business dealings in Bridgeport and work he received many years ago on behalf of the town of Trumbull’s sewer system. Moutinho also had a rock-crushing operation in Bridgeport’s East End that covered the neighborhood in dust until protests finally prevailed.

Finch operatives are telling anyone willing to listen to them that Gus Curcio is behind the Anyone But Finch billboard on the Route 25-8 Connector that has bulged the orbs of thousands of highway drivers and raised the curiosity of political camps about the financial backer. Finch friends, through a Political Action Committee, A Better Connecticut, are also trying to shame the campaign donations former mayoral candidate Charlie Coviello received from Curcio to the candidacy of Finch’s opponent Mary-Jane Foster. Coviello supported Finch for mayor in 2007, and now is a prospective candidate for Board of Education on the Foster mayoral slate.

In light of the effort to drag Curcio into the mayoral race I called him a few days ago to ask what gives. First, a little background on Gus:

Curcio’s name recognition in Bridgeport 30 years ago was somewhere just below Jesus Christ. When you’re accused of rubbing out Frank Piccolo, who then-US Attorney Richard Blumenthal declared the preeminent mobster in the state, it lends itself to notoriety. Although pinched by city police for the Piccolo hit at the corner of Main and Jewett in 1981, Curcio became the only person in the history of the state to be cleared by a grand jury whose prosecutorial direction was pretty much a stamp of approval back then. Curcio did do a number of years in federal prison on loan-sharking and extortion charges, prosecuted by authorities investigating organized crime. Completing his time in the mid-1990s Curcio ventured into the adult entertainment business that has become a city zoning issue in several neighborhoods. Where and what is an appropriate location for strip clubs?

Adult entertainment interests such as Curcio can become convenient targets of pols looking to score points with voters. Curcio took my phone call and I first asked him about any connection to financing the Anyone But Finch billboard. He flatly denied any connection. But then he offered something unexpected when I asked him about his relationship with Finch, whether he had any issues with the mayor. Curcio explained that, in fact, he and Moutinho co-hosted the event at Cafe Roma four years ago, raising tens of thousands of dollars, and several political operatives have confirmed the same. Curcio received congratulations and backslaps for his effort on behalf of the Finch campaign.

What’s the point of all of this? Be careful about whom you drag into a mayoral campaign or accuse of being mobbed up. Coviello has known Curcio for years, but that did not seem to bother Finch in 2007 when he accepted Coviello’s endorsement and campaign fundraising from Curcio.

Airport Manager John Ricci, a financial supporter of Finch’s campaign, for years had business dealings with Curcio and Moutinho. Does that make Ricci a bad guy? A whole bunch of folks appointed by Finch or left in government service by Finch have dubious backgrounds and criminal records.

Bridgeport politics is not a breeding ground for boy scouts. It’s also not a place for self-righteousness.

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67 comments

      1. Gus was the best boss I ever had. I was part of the remodeling crew that did the old dumpy Testo’s restaurant into the upscale restaurant Gus turned it into. I can’t recall the Italian name but it was called the corner in English.

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  1. To: Bill Finch
    Re: State Takeover of BOE
    You cannot un-ring the bell. After months of behind the scene scheming with the state of CT you put into action a plan that surrendered the BOE to the state of CT. You knew exactly what you were doing and you did not care if the state choose not to name a Latino member.
    Do not now attempted to cover up your blunder.
    This is exactly why myself and so many other Bridgeporters were and are upset by your purely political actions to disavow yourself and your administration from the failures of the Bridgeport school system.
    You apparently do not have a problem whatsoever that the vast majority of the board are not Bridgeport residents, are not Bridgeport taxpayers, are not parents of children in the Bridgeport school system, are not true stakeholders in the future of the students in the Bridgeport school system. BUT you are suddenly concerned there are no Latino members of the new board. You are a two-faced phony.
    Look at your appointments to the boards and commissions in the city of Bridgeport.
    First of all you cannot even fulfill your obligations on a timely basis AND you do not submit appointments that reflect the racial, ethnic and geographic makeup of the city.
    Hopefully your last-minute lame attempt to suck up to the Latino community will fall on the same deaf ears all of your other last-minute efforts to make up for your three-plus years of failures.

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    1. Bob Walsh is more Latino than Lydia Martinez, Manolin Ayala, and all Latinos on Finch’s side who have been mute with regards to all Finch has done and not done for Latinos and blacks alike.

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      1. As long as we allow them to call us what they want we should EXPECT to be treated in the way they have become accustomed to treating us. Joel instead of naming candidates who will appear on the ballot and giving people names to remember (politics 101), you should be out there getting signatures.

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    2. Bob Walsh–that last paragraph was on the money. Imagine, with the huge Latino population in our great diverse city, how do you leave a Hispanic off the school Board?

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  2. Does anyone know what black or Latino ELECTED Bridgeport person has publicly come out and stated they are supporting Mayor Finch in this primary? We do know every DTC district leader is supporting the mayor. Lennie, who are the DTC leaders in each district?

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    1. The DTC leaders have a lot to lose. They’re gonna hustle the vote for Finch because Oz the Great and Terrible over on Madison Avenue told them to.

      What is also expected are the endorsements of Mary-Jane Foster from leaders of the various communities that make up Bridgeport. Our diversity is what makes Bridgeport a great place to live. We should be drawing strength from that. For too long the DTC under the leadership of Mario Testa has cynically employed the politics of division to achieve their desired results, the few benefiting at the expense of the many. That’s why the city’s schools are in such dreadful shape. That is why the city is more than a billion dollars in the hole. That is why city department heads have to call Mario Testa to ask his permission to fire an incompetent employee hired at his behest.

      This system of political patronage must be repudiated on September 13th. Bill Finch is an anachronism of a middle-aged white guy, bigoted, xenophobic, a fraud. All the worst characteristics of a country-club Republican. Time to send this lame horse to the glue factory.

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        1. I wasn’t there and could only speculate but historically there has always been a representative of each community, Black, White and Puerto Rican that nominate then second the nomination for Mayor.

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      1. Hector, John Fabrizi nominated Bill Finch and Ralph Ford second the nomination and then Lydia Martinez also seconded the nomination. Ms. Martinez has publicly come out as an elected official for the mayor and Ed Gomes has publicly come out for MJF; where are the other elected officials?

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  3. “… was thrown a fundraiser at Cafe Roma, a now-closed city restaurant on Fairfield Avenue downtown …”

    If you call Finch for a comment on this, he will just say the former owner of Cafe Roma is a failed restaurateur.

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    1. I was advocating “a fresh new approach” to deter gun violence. Instead of saying they should cut the trigger fingers of those convicted of armed robbery or shooting people, I chop one off to literally make the statement. That’s what it was all about. I also support some legal gun control. I believe each person should be limited to two (2) guns. If you have only two hands, I don’t understand why you would have a need to own 100 guns.

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      1. I have to wonder why the NRA thinks it should be lawful to own assault weapons, Uzis and AK47s and such. A machine gun is not required to hunt deer, pheasant, duck, or any other food source.

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        1. TBK–the simplest answer is the criminals already have them. We should be able to protect our families and property with equal or superior firepower.
          PS–have you ever herd of any of these “gangbangers” hunting for deer, duck or other food source?

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    1. Please, for the love of Bridgeport, give it a rest donj. Foster supporters need to pick our battles and not call attention to past faux pas being embellished upon by the opponent’s support team. We all have a common goal, and have no time for pissing matches and dissent. Please?

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    2. donj, what’s with all the chicken-little rhetoric? Ayala received a full pardon. His criminal record has been expunged. Give it a rest. If you don’t want to vote for Tito Ayala or Joel Gonzalez, just don’t do it. No one is holding a gun to your head demanding you vote for the full slate. Give it a rest. I’m sure you’ve made some mistakes in your life, things you’d rather people forgot.

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    3. Mary Jane Foster will not be judged by the individuals on her slate. She stands alone as the potential leader of the largest city in the state. As Finch will be judged on his own merit and not the associations he has been aligned with in the past.

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  4. donj, I understand you are young but there a few things you can still learn. Elections allow you to make your selection, if you don’t like Charlie Coviello, Tito Ayala or Joel Gonzalez, DON’T VOTE FOR THEM. You have the right with your selection to make it perfect by who you select. Don’t let the Perfect get in the way of the Good.

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    1. He seems to be having a problem with those two in particular. It’s understandable. But this is Bridgeport. If a person should get a second chance it is here.

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  5. Difficult to keep track … Who’s left left running against Finch who has not joined up with MJF? Oh right, there’s Jeff Kohut. So tune in tonight at 8pm on ch 88 to hear what Jeff Kohut, candidate for Bridgeport mayor, has to say.

    “Bridgeport Now” live commercial-free TV, also streaming on the net at soundviewtv.org.

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  6. Just for the record … I am not voting for Joel Gonzalez because I do not want a person of his limited intellectual capacity, his lack of emotional stability and his childlike persona having anything to do with the conduct of my municipal affairs. These are serious times, times for serious people to act and Joel Gonzalez does not fit into that category.

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  7. You guys complain about Finch nonstop on here so if I feel like complaining about her slate I am going to do it and will not give it a rest. I am voting for Foster but I refuse to shut up on issues. Foster people seem not to like any forms of criticism.

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    1. It’s not like that, donj. You keep complaining about something. No one likes a whiner. If you don’t want to vote for Ayala or Gonzalez, DON’T VOTE FOR THEM. There’s no criticism coming from you, only complaints. That is annoying to everyone, so stop complaining, wait until 9/13/11 and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, period.

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        1. Now that’s HARD to do. Too much wrong with him and his mayoralty to ignore. And this is an election year. I remind the MJF forces to prepare to have at least two experienced and trained poll watchers at each location to monitor and be prepared to cite irregularities. If Caruso had done that four years ago he would have been mayor.

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  8. yahooy is straightforward with his vote. I might have to second that but depends on who he is running against. All I know is my ticket is going to be a split ticket.

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  9. I was blown away today by the number of people who said they are NOT voting since Gomes dropped out. A clearer partnership message needs to be released or a lot of people might stay away September 13!!!

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  10. I wanted to say something about Mr. Curcio. He has, to me, proven himself to be a GENTLEMAN and businessman above reproach. It seems all that is commented about him is negative and that’s a shame. In the 20 or so years I’ve known him I have yet to witness anything illegal or even immoral about him personally. If you don’t want to frequent his businesses then don’t, but to speak ill of someone you don’t know in Bridgeport, come on. For those who will say “well I read it in the Post” (when was the last time the Post ever wrote something completely true, might have been when Lennie, Gilmore and Cunningham worked there). People who live in glass houses … who of you can cast the first stone … I’m surprised there aren’t many more letters here from people who know Gus especially those who have broken bread with him. If you won’t stand up for your friends why should we expect you will stand up for this City, there are many more negative comments about Bridgeport.

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    1. Word around the campfire is Mr. Curcio had an interest in a tavern in Black Rock, Little Joe’s Café. The place wasn’t making enough money due to lack of business, but the owners didn’t see it that way. They blamed the employees, accused them of stealing. They even fired a bartender who was on vacation in Florida at the time of the alleged “thefts.” Business was not all it could’ve been before the mass termination. Any regular patrons they had acquired were pissed off and stopped frequenting the place. There is also anecdotal information they hadn’t paid the rent in some time.

      Gus Curcio may be a standup guy on Madison Avenue. He left some bad blood in Black Rock.

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    2. This came in a close second in the contest for the most asinine post of the week. Better luck next week. Especially if you keep trying to blame all of Gus’s problems on the Connecticut Post.

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  11. Mary-Jane collected close to 1,000 more names today, I doubt the number of people who won’t vote is small. I don’t know how much clearer the message can be … Headlines and pictures above the fold in the Post. Perhaps someone should put up a billboard.

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    1. It’s hard to believe anyone would be so petty about a candidate dropping out of the race. That has to be a small minority. John Gomes and Mary-Jane Foster presented a united front, taking as their mission to take back City Hall and municipal government for the people of the city of Bridgeport. I don’t know how much more specific they can be. Perhaps some good old-fashioned politicking, visiting churches, grocery stores, barber shops and the other places local residents congregate.

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      1. We’re not voting for contestants in a beauty pageant or “American Idol.” The two strongest opposition candidates have joined forces to reform city government. No one is out of the game at this point. I’ve wanted John Gomes on the ticket since Mary-Jane Foster entered the race. I’m sure there are people disappointed with Gomes’ decision, but it was fraught with realpolitik. He will be an integral member of the Foster administration.

        Perhaps the two of them ought to reach out to the community, as I said in an earlier post.

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    2. fly,
      Some people who were diehard Gomes supporters did not fully comprehend what happened. It had to be explained this is a partnership and he fully backs MJF. Some were disappointed obviously that they can’t vote for him, it was expected I’m sure.

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  12. The latest form The Coleman Circus/State BOE

    “The board, at least the board chair, indicated that that was not something that they needed,” Coleman said of a 2010 law that requires local school boards to receive a variety of additional training before they may be vulnerable to a takeover.

    Coleman used a 2010 law to dissolve the locally elected board and replace it. The issue sets into play such time-honored state traditions as home rule.

    As of Tuesday afternoon Coleman had one vacancy to fill.

    “So, I am satisfied that they knew that the state was willing to provide it and that that board, through its chair, determined that that was not something that was needed and in fact that they had accessed what they thought was that curriculum in that training and beyond that they had financed additional training of their own and that largely they rejected the opportunity for further training,” Coleman said.

    And this convoluted logic trumps the election rights of the voters in the city of Bridgeport???

    “That the board, through its chair, determined that that was not something that was needed.” He must be referring to following the state law.

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  13. Off topic, I just finished reading John Gilmore’s “Cocaineros Duel.” A good read, lots of action & intrigue, violence, my kind of novel. Best part is the denouement occurring in McLevy Square. Wishing John much more success.

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