John Gomes, the city’s deputy chief administrative officer who was suspended without pay for an altercation with city police, has been terminated.
Gomes had been in charge of the city’s highly touted government efficiency CitiStat program. Several weeks ago Gomes was involved in a beef with police that responded to a complaint at a Cape Verdean social club event. Police claim Gomes touted his city position; that was tantamount to interfering with law enforcement. Gomes has disputed police accounts. He was charged with interfering with an officer and breach of the peace.
The city decided to fire Gomes, after being placed on unpaid leave, for failing to respond to the police allegations. John, if you’re out there, feel free to share your side. Why do I get the feeling Gomes has a lawyer working this?
Feds Zone In On Sohn
This will not be a happy holiday season for Michael Sohn, Chris Shays’ former campaign manager. The feds clocked Sohn with a 12-count indictment that includes allegations of embezzlement, tax evasion and giving false statements. Shortly after Shays’ loss to Jim Himes in November of 2008, campaign finances showed a hole of hundreds of thousands of dollars in unaccounted expenses that also impacted vendor payments and campaign staff compensation, forcing Shays to fund-raise after his defeat. Shays turned the information over to federal agents and his most trusted adviser became the target of the probe.
Sohn has not made any public statements about the investigation and so far has taken the position of someone who wants to fight the charges, even switching lawyers in the past year, and now there is a conflict with his second lawyer Philip Russell who himself was prosecuted, in an evidence destruction case, by Assistant United States Attorney Peter Jongbloed, an accomplished prosecutor, who’s in charge of the Sohn case. It’s messy. Defendants often look for lawyers who’ll tell them what they want to hear instead of whey they need to hear. Poor legal advice exacerbates a defendant’s problems. What the hell was Russell doing taking the case on in the first place?
The feds have been working this case for more than a year. Sohn, it appears, had been conferring with Russell for many months. When did Russell find out Jongbloed was in charge of the case? Sohn needs to find a lawyer that can deal with this.
News release from U.S. Attorney:
FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER CHARGED WITH EMBEZZLEMENT, TAX EVASION AND OTHER OFFENSES
Nora R. Dannehy, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that a federal grand jury sitting in New Haven has returned a 12-count indictment charging MICHAEL IAN SOHN, 34, of Fairfield, with embezzling campaign funds, causing the filing of false campaign reports, and federal tax offenses. The indictment was returned on December 2, and SOHN was arrested this morning. He is scheduled to be presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons at 11:30 a.m.
The indictment alleges that SOHN was employed as the campaign manager for the Shays Campaign Committee from January 2003 through December 2008, and also was employed by the United States House of Representatives from January 2003 through May 2008. From 2005 to 2008, SOHN is alleged to have embezzled money from the Campaign in each of the four years, totaling approximately $252,424. It is alleged that SOHN embezzled money from the Campaign by writing himself checks and using the Campaign’s ATM/debit card to withdraw cash and make debit card purchases.
The indictment further alleges that SOHN caused the Shays Campaign Committee treasurer to file four false reports with the Federal Election Commission in 2008 in that the reports did not accurately report at four times in 2008 the Campaign’s actual expenditures and cash on hand. The FEC reports did not report the Campaign’s expenditure of the money SOHN embezzled and over reported the Campaign’s cash on hand.
Finally, the indictment charges SOHN with failing to file a federal income tax return in 2005, 2006, and 2007, and evading the payment of taxes in 2008 by not reporting approximately $88,000 in income on his tax return in that year, resulting in a tax loss to the Government of approximately $37,000 in 2008.
SOHN is charged with four counts of illegally converting campaign contributions to his personal use. If convicted of these charges, SOHN faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine up to $1 million. SOHN also is charged with four counts of making false statements. If convicted on these counts, he faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $1 million. Finally, SOHN is charged with three counts of failing to file federal income tax returns and one count of tax evasion. If convicted on these counts, SOHN faces a maximum term of imprisonment of eight years, a fine of up to $550,000, and the costs of prosecution on the tax offenses.
U.S. Attorney Dannehy stressed that an indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial at which it is the Government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Peter S. Jongbloed.
From the Connecticut Post:
Under pressure, Finch agrees to open fire safety task force meetings
Mayor Bill Finch, acquiescing to complaints from a citizens’ group investigating the fire at the P.T. Barnum Apartments that claimed the life of a young mother and her three children, has agreed to open future meetings of his own task force on fire safety to the public.
The group calling itself the Shadow Task Force had announced earlier this week that its members would not participate in the official group appointed by the mayor in the aftermath of the Nov. 13 blaze that killed Tiana Black and her children. All died of smoke inhalation.
In a letter to the press, members of the shadow group said they “were surprised to learn” the mayor’s task force had been meeting as an “invitation-only” group “that does not allow the press or the public to enter during meetings.” The shadow group also faulted the lack of minutes taken during meetings called by the mayor’s task force.
“In our view, a municipal government should not create a task force to examine an issue of such great concern and restrict the public’s access to the information discussed in the meeting,” the letter stated. It was signed by Craig Kelly, former chairman of the Bridgeport NAACP chapter; Donna Fewell, president of the P.T. Barnum Residents Association; former Bridgeport Firebirds President Ronald Mackey; former Superior Court Judge Carmen L. Lopez; Tawanda White and Esther Lindsay. The Firebirds group is a fraternal organization of African-American and Latino firefighters in the city.
The shadow group stated that “… until the meetings are open to the public and the press, we will not participate in any future meetings of the mayor’s task force.”
A spokesman for the state Freedom of Information on Friday confirmed that all panels appointed by a mayor of first selectman in Connecticut must be open to the public.
“Absolutely, they’re required to open those meetings,” said Tom Hennick, a spokesman for the state Freedom of Information Commission. “In the Freedom of Information laws is the phrase that reads: ‘any committee of or created by.’ So it’s clearly a public agency.”
Late Friday afternoon, after the Connecticut Post questioned Finch spokeswoman Elaine Ficarra about the apparent FOI violation by the mayor, a statement was issued by his office, saying in part, “These meetings were informal working groups intended to ensure the prompt availability of Fire Department resources to the Bridgeport Housing Authority. To prevent future concerns, any future meetings, which include people outside of city of Bridgeport staff, and which fall under FOI laws, will be open to the public and media to attend, and publicly noticed with minutes taken.”
Two members of the mayor’s task force — state Reps. Auden Grogins and Charles “Don” Clemons, both D-Bridgeport — said they were not told the meetings would be closed to the public. “I didn’t know that the press was not being invited. I think that we have to comply with the law,” said Grogins, a lawyer.
Are you as dizzy as I am with all these candidate changes?
Governor Jodi Rell’s announcement that she’s not running set off a cannon blast of political scattering. Waterbury State Senator Sam Caligiuri decides to run for the U.S. House in Connecticut’s 5th District instead of U.S. Senate, former ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley decides to run for governor instead of U.S. Senate. Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele announces his bid for the state’s top job. State Rep. Larry Cafero? State Senator John McKinney? I’m losing count.
The result is a much clearer picture to decide the GOP candidate to challenge U.S. Senator Chris Dodd assuming he survives a primary against Democrat Merrick Alpert. Linda McMahon now has a hammerlock on former Congressman Rob Simmons for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination, by virtue of a bank account that could nearly close the state’s budget deficit, unless stock broker Peter Schiff, another big-money Republican, can figure out a way to get himself in play.
Oh, and did I forget the Democratic side for governor? Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, Ned Lamont, Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi. (Yes, Rudy’s the Democratic first selectman in Ridgefield, who’d have thought that was possibe?) Who did I miss? So, you have any favorites?
We can chew on all of this at the OIB holiday party on Monday, 5:30 p.m. at Épernay Bistro, 272 Fairfield Avenue downtown. Come say hello!
Speaking of Fedele, one day after officially kicking off his guber campaign he announces these endorsements:
Lt. Governor Michael Fedele announced yesterday that 22 government, community and business leaders have endorsed him just one day after announcing his campaign for Governor.
“I am proud and enormously pleased to have the support and endorsement of such a well respected group of leaders who have contributed so much to our state,” the Lt. Governor said. “These are folks who understand that Connecticut faces a defining moment in the revitalization of our economy, and that recovery depends on one thing: JOBS.”
The group endorsing the Lt. Governor’s campaign for governor includes Mayor Mike Pavia of Stamford, Mayor Scott Kaupin of Enfield, First Selectman Paul Formica of East Lyme, as well as other elected officials, Republican Town Committee chairs and members and community and business leaders across the state.
“The Lt. Governor has a track record of creating jobs,” Mayor Mike Pavia of Stamford said. “Mike understands that the tax burden placed on our workers and employers is stifling growth and hurting our municipalities.”
“Town and city governments must shoulder more and more of the burden when people are out of work,” said Mayor Scott Kaupin of Enfield. “I really believe Mike’s focus on job creation and understanding that taxes hurt jobs is a message Connecticut voters will believe in, because they’ve lived it”.
“Mike understands the jobs of the future because he, himself founded a cutting edge information technology firm,” First Selectman Paul Formica of East Lyme stated. “He knows firsthand what it takes to bring new companies and new jobs to Connecticut and he knows how to help our existing companies grow. ”
Lt. Governor Fedele formally announced his candidacy for governor yesterday at a meeting in Cromwell with more than 100 business leaders. The initial list of endorsements follows:
· Stamford Mayor Michael Pavia
· Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei
· New Canaan First Selectman Jeb Walker
· Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giuliano
· Enfield Mayor Scott Kaupin
· New Milford Mayor Patricia Murphy
· East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica
· Glastonbury Town Council Chair Susan Karp
· Newtown First Selectman Patricia Llodra
· Farmington Town Council Chair Michael Clark
· Wethersfield Mayor Donna Hemmann
· Vernon Mayor Jason McCoy
· Guilford First Selectman Joseph Mazza
· Woodbury First Selectman Jerry Stomski
· Durham First Selectman Laura Francis
· Old Saybrook First Selectman Michael Pace
· Mr. Larry Auriana, Co-Founder of the Kaufmann Fund
· Mr. Giovanni Tomasi, President of RSL Fiber Optic Systems
· Mr. Lee Rizzuto, Vice President of Conair Corporation
· Mr. Cal Calderella, Old Saybrook Republican Town Committee Chair
· Mr. Malcolm Pray, Founder of Pray Automotive
· Mr. Ken Wilson, Guilford Republican Town Committee Member
Rockin’ In Black Rock
Ms. Mo and I attended the opening of friend Charlie Walsh’s art exhibit at the Gallery at Black Rock. We kicked off the night for dinner at Cafe Tavolini on Fairfield Avenue. We didn’t know about the early-bird special when we arrived, but when they told us about it we said, why not? It’s a sweet deal for $12.95 a person. Check it out.
When we walked through the door of the gallery we ran into a dapper Mayor Bill Finch who was on hand to support his fishing bud Charles, columnist for the Connecticut Post. I’m glad the mayor has survived his fishing sojourns with Sir Charles. I almost did not. Charlie has a way of dreaming up brilliant weather even when the sky looks like rattlesnakes are about to bite through the clouds. One day we’re on his tiny boat on Long Island Sound. We’re going out as everyone’s coming in. Charlie, maybe we shouldn’t do this today. Oh, he says, everything will be just fine. It’ll blow over.
Jesus, it was like Dorothy in Kansas except we were on the water. We’re about to capsize. I think we need to beach the boat, Charlie says. Gee, sounds so reassuring. We head toward the beach and I’m like Bugs Bunny … ooh, ah, he, oh. Will St. Peter call my name? We reach the beach with nothing but our rods and a six pack.
I have never been in a boat again with Charles. But, hey, I love his artwork. Charlie has an odd look at life both in print and on canvas. So head over to the Gallery at Black Rock and check out his work. His daughter Eileen is a genial host.
From Superintendent of Schools John Ramos
Bridgeport Superintendent Honored With National Recognition
Dr. John J. Ramos, Sr. Chosen To Receive the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award from the Consulate of Israel
The Consulate of Israel in New York announced yesterday that Dr. John J. Ramos, Sr., Ed. D., Superintendent of the Bridgeport Public Schools, will receive the 2010 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award in recognition of his outstanding work and dedication, honoring the life and legacy of the slain civil rights leader’s dream of peaceful coexistence between people of diverse religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
Superintendent Dr. John J. Ramos says he is honored to receive this recognition. “I humbly accept this award on behalf of the entire Bridgeport Public Schools learning community and the great City of Bridgeport because it is together that we are EXPECTING and pursuing GREAT THINGS! This award is not only for me but, for everyone working on behalf of our scholars and those who truly believe in making Dr. King’s dream a reality. I am overwhelmed by the Counsel General and State of Israel’s recognition and will be forever grateful.”
The Israeli Consulate will join together with the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish National Fund to host a tribute to Dr. King, where Ramos will publicly accept this award. The awards ceremony is slated to be held the week of January 18th to coincide with the federal holiday of King’s birthday or the month of February in tribute to Black History Month.