Filmmaker Seeks Access To Ganim-Case Wiretaps, Federal Judge Recuses Himself

Ganim, Adams
Ganim and retired FBI agent Ed Adams, now mayoral aide, on 2015 campaign trail.

U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer has recused himself from presiding over a federal complaint by Fairfield-based filmmaker Thomas K. Reilly who seeks disclosure of Department of Justice wiretap recordings from the 2003 prosecution of Mayor Joe Ganim. Meyer, who worked for the U.S. Attorney’s Office but had no involvement in the Ganim case, writes he has recused himself “on the ground that my prior service in the U.S. Attorney’s Office at the same time as the trial of Joseph Ganim may create an appearance that I could not be fair and impartial in this case.” Reilly, who resides in the Southport section of Fairfield, shared in an email exchange with OIB he’d provide additional details about his project in the near future.

Reilly brought his federal lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act after the feds declined to disclose documents related to the case.

Excerpt from Judge Meyer decision:

Plaintiff has now moved to recuse me as the judge in this case on the ground that I served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office at the same time that the investigation and prosecution of Joseph Ganim occurred. This was a fact that I disclosed to the parties at the initial status conference that I convened with the parties on April 3, 2017. Doc. #40 at 3. As I made clear during the status conference, I was not a prosecutor in that case. Ibid.; see also United States v. Joseph P. Ganim, 3:01-cr-00263-JBA (docket sheet listing counsel names). Nor do I have any recollection of otherwise participating in the investigation or prosecution, and I do not have personal knowledge concerning the disposition of any records from the investigation and prosecution.

In addition, I do not have a personal bias in favor of the U.S. Department of Justice, whether in general or because of my prior work for the Department of Justice that ended more than 12 years ago. Accordingly, my recusal is not required pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 455(b)(1) (requiring recusal if judge “has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding”), or pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 455(b)(3) (requiring recusal if a judge “has served in governmental employment and in such capacity participated as counsel, adviser or material witness concerning the proceeding or expressed an opinion concerning the merits of the particular case in controversy”).

On the other hand, because of the fact that I worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office at the same time of the very high-profile investigation and prosecution of Joseph Ganim and because plaintiff now complains about my impartiality, I conclude on further consideration that my continued participation could create an appearance that I would not be fair and impartial. See 28 U.S.C. § 455(a) (requiring disqualification of a judge “in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned”). As the Supreme Court has observed, “the goal of section 455(a) is to avoid even the appearance of partiality,” and “[i]f it would appear to a reasonable person that a judge has knowledge of facts that would give him an interest in the litigation then an appearance of partiality is created even though no actual partiality exists because the judge does not recall the facts, because the judge actually has no interest in the case or because the judge is pure in heart and incorruptible.” Liljeberg v. Health Servs. Acquisition Corp., 486 U.S. 847, 860 (1988).

In an abundance of caution and in light of the fact that this litigation has now turned toward a focus on the record-keeping policies of the U.S. Attorney’s Office as distinct from the FBI (Doc. #39), I think the appropriate course is for me to recuse myself so that the case may be randomly reassigned by the Clerk Office’s to another judge who was not working at the U.S. Attorney’s Office at the relevant times of the investigation and prosecution of Joseph Ganim.

See judge’s recusal decision here.

See case details here.

Other filmmakers have shown interest in Ganim’s comeback. Local film documentarian Don Sikorski chronicled Ganim’s 2015 mayoral comeback in real time for his City Wars series.

Starting in the summer of 1999, the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office secured court-authorized wiretaps of several targets in the Ganim case. The recordings, however, were instrumental in corroborating witness testimony rather than providing a smoking gun of impropriety. Over the course of Ganim’s more than two-month trial, the government played a few dozen–out of hundreds of wiretaps–recordings to bolster its case with the jury. Then-FBI agent Ed Adams, now mayoral aide in one of the surreal twists to Ganim’s comeback, testified in the case and sat through the entire trial. Ganim was convicted March 19, 2003 and sentenced to nine years by U.S. District Judge Janet Arterton.

He served more than six years in two low-security federal facilities before release to a halfway house in January 2010. Ganim had toyed with a mayoral comeback in 2011 but several timing factors such as being on supervised release, young children and his then-wife loathe to a political comeback held him back.

Along the way the Connecticut Supreme Court unanimously upheld a lower court ruling denying Ganim reinstatement to the state bar. His economic vitality diminished, who was going to pay Ganim a financial package of roughly $160,000 accorded the mayor of the state’s largest city? Ganim returned to the political arena in 2015 with a historic win based largely on a second-chance message that resonated with black voters opposed to the record of incumbent Democrat Bill Finch. Ganim knocked off Finch in the primary on his way to a convincing general election win.



  1. This film maker should be making a movie about a mayor that refuses to do a mayors job and is dabbling in things that got him in trouble before. Dumb Ass

    1. Andy are you suggesting that the movie will be written as a comedy? The look on the face of Ed Adams in the picture above looks semi-tragic to me. Not a hint of a smile, is there?

      Perhaps he was listening to Ganim2 go on about OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE, TRANSPARENT and HONEST governance when he won? Or perhaps after that he learned he would be appointed the new INTEGRITY CZAR? Good day, sir, what is my job? Well I shall be appointed as Bridgeport Integrity Czar, or BIC for short!! How long does it take to click the BIC one only wonders?

      City Council missing attachments and schedules to contracts they are asked to approve? City contracts fail to require handwritten dates (or initialling) contemporary with each signature? Financial details not included? “Don’t worry about it!” City says. Accountable or Transparent?

      By the way I have been waiting for someone to question whether Judge (Recusing) Meyer is related to City Attorney Christopher Meyer?? Wouldn’t that line of thinking be appropriate for Bridgeport? Time will tell.

    2. Lennie, did the feds give a reason for their objection to the release of recordings and documents? A decade ago I attempted twice and both times the reason given was: “The case is part of an ongoing investigation.” Seventeen years has gone by. Why the interest in the files now? Is it politically motivated rather than a block buster movie that will never materialize?

  2. Ganim became mayor again for the pay check. He couldn’t practice law because he couldn’t get his law license back because he did not show remorse for his actions. If Joe owned up to what he did, humbly sought readmission to the bar he might have won; returned to practicing law and Bridgeport might have a mayor who wants the job.

  3. Who is this filmmaker?
    Is he another shill for Joe who will hap praise on all of the good things that he has allegedly done?
    Or is he a shill for an opposition candidate, one thing that Joe did not really have when he ran for mayor?
    Second chance candidate or second chance to skewer his honor?

  4. To be honest<i am not interested in JG1. It's done with and in the past. What is more concerning and discomforting is the poor performance of JG2. It is becoming painfully obvious that JG2 does not care one bit about Bridgeport.Carefully scripted PR events and Ganim skips out PRONTO,lack of true involvement with communities and community groups in Bridgeport. Ganim's increasing preoccupation with his delusional run for Governor. Ganim shuts himself off and lives in his own world. He fooled the people of Bridgeport in his "return" to political life but he has shown himself to be a zombie once he attained the office of Mayor.

  5. Is this the same Thomas K. Reilly of “One on One with Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong Un: You Gotta Have Seoul!” winner of the 2016 Phnom Penh Film Festival first prize for Best Editing in the Political Dementia Documentary Topics category?!


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