Hey, Ho–Which Way Will The Trial Go?

The civil court trial Conroy vs. Joseph Ganim et al., that appears to be in the closing week or so of testimony, is a tough one to call.

The case centers on this: did Ganim, Al Lenoci Sr., Al Lenoci Jr., their attorney Chuck Willinger and Joe Kasper, once head of an architecture/engineering company, conspire to torpedo Alex Conroy’s proposed development of Steelpointe. Kasper and both Lenocis took a pretty good grilling on the stand in relation to the benefits Joe Ganim received while he was mayor. But that doesn’t necessarily translate into a conviction on the civil allegations.

Clearly, Conroy lost his financing for the project three times. That’s not in dispute. And clearly the Lenocis wanted to be involved in Steelpointe in some fashion. But did Ganim et al, including the city of Bridgeport, a named defendant, make life so difficult for Conroy–stonewalling, blocking, making unreasonable demands–that the financial backers balked, paving the way for the Lenocis, the anointed ones, to take over the deal?

Some of the evidence that played out in Ganim’s criminal trial is being replayed civilly, including some new information involving those, such as Kasper and Willinger, that were not charged criminally. I spent a couple of days on the stand at the beginning of this trial and walked away feeling my testimony impact was marginal. First of all, I don’t have a rooster in this riot. And secondly, my falling out with Ganim in the summer of 1999, removed me from the time period of most of the serious key allegations. I was out of the loop. I also did not represent the Lenocis, or Conroy.

The plaintiff basically followed the same testimony pattern as the criminal trial. They placed me in the witness box before Pinto because they knew that Pinto would undergo a blistering cross-examination. As my lawyer told me in the criminal case, “You’ve got the toughest job, you’re going first.” But my cross-examination in this civil case was tame. First-class defense attorneys such as Hubert Santos (Willinger’s lawyer) and Ira Grudberg (Lenoci Sr.) probably felt that I did no appreciable damage. Lawyers for the city did not cross-examine me.

Before I testified the jury saw Ganim, via videotape from the joint in Fort Dix, NJ take the fifth. Ganim’s criminal case is still under appeal, even though he’s been in a federal camp more than four years. (Jesus, that’s a long time.) It was better for him to say nothing.

The vitriol between Pinto and the defendants is nasty, just plain nasty. Once I got out of that mess I stayed out. Good gravy, all those guys were negotiating deals even after Pinto got out of the joint. And that’s what this case is all about–gravy. Moolah fights piss people off.

The jury also heard evidence that Conroy has a litigious history when things don’t go his way.

The plaintiff will try to keep the heat on greed, corruption, ambition. The defense will try to keep it on Conroy’s failure to perform. This one’s hard to call.



  1. “Ganim’s criminal case is still under appeal, even though he’s been in a federal camp more than four years. (Jesus, that’s a long time.)”

    Someone please explain this….maybe my ethics are wrong or something:

    How is it that Ganim gets 9+ years and sex offenders, murderers, etc. have less terms. Our judicial system is real screwy.

    Understand: I’m not saying what Ganim did was not wrong, but how is it that someone who rapes another person can get off with being in the joint for less time.

  2. I feel that Conroy will prevail with about 3 million dollars in damages. This trial is about the gang that couldn’t get their stories straight including Conroy.

    Especially damaging was Lenoci Jr. in testimony about the $1.00 psf. deal and Joe Kasper not being able to remember certain things about his business. His testimony about Pinto being a 32k a year “Gofer” didn’t cut it when three years later Pinto was buying out his company for several million dollars. Joe Kasper was further damaged in his testimony of giving a 20k cash payment to Joe Ganim for work to be performed by Joe’s brother George Ganim Jr.

    Conroy gets hurt by his inability to secure financing especially in light of the Asian Rim market collapse in the late 1990’s. The defense was succesful in pulling a smoking gun memo through discovery process that inadvertently was found in Conroy’s files turned over with correspondence between Conroy and his then attorney Charles Needle showing that Conroy didn’t have his financing in place.

    Other key testimony will be by Chuck Willinger.

    I just think that the jury will be sympathetic to Conroy and give him something based on the actions of “The Penny Loafer Gang”.

  3. ngko325

    I certainly think that what you write about is fairness issue.

    However, the crimes you write about traditionally are adjudicated on the State level and Joe’s case was a Federal case with clear sentencing guidelines. “The first one to the courthouse steps wins”. Joe has steadfastly proclaimed his innocence whereas he could have cut a deal, cooperated and would have probably received 3 1/2 years and been out by now. There are no winners in this case only losers. Including the individuals, their families and the the City of Bridgeport.

  4. “Gossip of The Rialto!”

    Hot Derby Tip!

    “Toilet Seat!” Put all you can on him.

    Watch out for “Bubble Gum” sticking to the rail.

    Overheard at the Shoreline Simulcast facility by a consensus of railbirds and barflies is to bet the chalk “Big Brown”. Historical significance is the last time a horse captured the Derby coming out of the twenty hole was Cliff Van Deusen in 1929. Considering our bleak financial times history will repeat itself with “Big Brown”.

  5. I, too, think Judge Arterton’s sentence was excessive, although Joe rejected an offer on the table for roughly 30 months. When Joe was sentenced, Arterton had to follow those idiotic federal senencing guidelines passed by Congress roughly 20 years ago that restricted a judge’s discretion. Joe took then stand and fibbed. That did not help his cause. The Supreme Court ruled the guidelines unconstitutional a few years ago. As a result of that decision Arterton could have reduced Joe’s sentence, but ruled fundamentally that her sentence would be the same irrespective of the guidelines. These cases depend on a lot of factors. The judge, the prosecutor and defense lawyer. Rowland received just a year because he went to school on Joe’s case and entered a plea. Ernie Newton received five years from Judge Nevas on a plea because the Moses of his people couldn’t keep his mouth shut. In the end Paul Pinto was Joe’s problem. No matter how many times I told Joe this it didn’t matter. Take Pinto out of the case and there is no case. He was the common denominator to every one involved at Joe’s direction. Still, a five-year sentence would have accomplished the correct balance. Consideration for Joe’s children should have — and could have — been a consideration in his sentence.

  6. Lennie, Lennie, Lennie – I said it before and now I’ll say it again. Joe Ganim’s arrogance, dishonesty and sense of entitlement got him his nine years. The man stole from the poorest city in the state. His “pay to play” policy has set Bridgeport back decades and he has earned every day of his nine year sentence.

    You say that, ” Consideration for Joe’s children should have — and could have — been a consideration in his sentence.” Well, I feel bad for Ganim’s children too. But how much consideration was “Joe” giving his children, and for that matter, all the children of Bpt, while he was extorting his kick backs?

    It’s a shame Ganim ruined his life, but he has no one to blame but himself.

  7. John There is no doubt that Ganim deserved a jail sentence but 9 years was excessive. I think Lennie’s correlation point about rapist and such is true. I knew a guy that did state time for manslaughter and he only did 7 years. Federal guidelines are out of whack. John a little strong NO?

  8. Lennie this subject is right down my lane. During the time all this was taking place I served in the city council 131st. district where Steel Point is located.
    I served On the Steel point developer selection committee. I was not picked by anyone. The Original plan was for Ganim to pick the members who would represent the city. I objected and insisted that at least one memeber should be from the 131st and not doing so would force me to go on a never ending objection. My colleague Alberto Negron could not serve as he worked days in Hartford, I was an automatic choice. RFQ’s are all in and deadline over. RFP’s are all in and Very small proposals or anything not meeting the set rules are all voted out. All selected proposals are in and we are ready to move on (don’t remember how many exactly) we meet all developers to get acquainted, to clarify the set the rules and answer any issue of concern. To be honest when I saw Alex Conroy for the first time I wasn’t impressed. A short, quiet man with gray hair from Fairfield and supposedly big developer, who I never heard of and not dressed as good as the other developers. His name catched my attention as my father, oldest brother and my late son’s had the name. Meetings begin and elimination process is moving along. I remember one of the proposals I liked that included an Aquarion. This was shot down because Rowland would not support competition to Mystic and Norwalk aquariums. But, it was ok to build a Mall to would compete with Bridgeport stores, Trumbull, Milford, Danbury malls, Clinton Crossing and on and on. Dennis Murphy was in love with Hines as many times he would say to me, “Hines, look at them good, I like Hines.” Now I know why. I convinced now that There was something involving Hines from the beginning. When they made their presentation, they looked like amateurs. They struggled for answers and I had fun tripping them with their own words. They struck out. From the beginning the State and City made it clear that they wanted a BIG proposal and that small to mediums ones won’t work. I Felt guilty when Alex Conroy came to bat as I tried my best to trip him (got to put them to the test) and he was just amazing and was clearly ready for the task. One thing that grab my attention that no one brought to the table was Public financing of the project. The Idea of the Tax incremental financing was Alex Conroy’s Idea and it was never mentioned by anyone else. This Idea is what made the project a great possibility and in fact the developer that has control of the Steel point site has the Tax incremental vehicle worth about 190 million. So what that the financing partners left. There are good reasons why and the City played a role in creating some of the reason why they opted out. Alex Conroy was fairly and correctly chosen. The city of Bridgeport then took over negotiations and the city Council was pretty much being kept in the dark as to what was going on. We were being told that Conroy had problems finding financing and contracts to rent space at the mall. No documents or letters from Conroy or the city was given to us, just words. We were not allowed to speak to Conroys as the contracts negotiations was the City attorneys duties and we would only vote when and if a deal was agreed upon.
    We did extend the contract deadlines (I think 3 times) with vague information. On the night that the city council voted to finally end the negotiations and the contract, Joe Ganim called for an executive session meeting (away from the public). Joe wanted to talk to us about ending the contract and he stated his or the city’s reason. He claimed that Conroy just could not get the backing required. When he finished his statement, there was a pause for like 15 seconds. Then Ganim said, “listen guys don’t worry, I know it’s a tough decision and we put in allot of work, there is a Developer who is ready to build a 500,000 sq. ft office building.” The pause returns and of course I had to open my mouth. I asked who? Ganim stayed quiet and did not answer. I pressed and asked who? Casper Group? United Properties? Ganim did not answer the question. Bob Walsh steps in and asked who? Answer the question. Lisa Parzialle joins in and no one would answer the question. I voted against it and I believe so did Bob and Lisa. Ganim calls an executive meeting and when one critical question is asked, he refuses to answer? I got my answer when I read the Post report of the unsealed indictment and I read 500,000 sq. ft. Now sometime before the news broke that the feds were in town listening on some folks, there was an item from contracts and appointment (Bill Finch the Chairman) regarding a $100,000 consulting payment to Casper group. I wanted to see a bill for the work performed or what it was for exactly. No answer from Finch. Bob Walsh (that Bastard) steps in and inquires more about the nature of the contract. No answer. Bob and I voted against it and the rest of the council still votes in favor. Was this money used to design the Hines project or the United Properties plan? Why didn’t Finch inquire about the money or some accounting of it when the news of Casper Group involment in a federal probe came out? Recently I had some communication with Holloran Conroy’s attorney and I was and still prepare to anwer any questions about this mess. I was also contacted by a person claiming to be an attorney for Lenoci and I made it clear to him that he would not want to call me as it will do no good to his client and I told him what I wrote above. I guess I spooked him as he did not call back a we agreed. Anyone can criticize Conroy for fileing lawsuits, what would you do in his shoes? Why didn’t the city sue Pinto for any damages or at least the $100,000 mentioned above. I’d like to hear from Bob Walsh or any one who was there and would like to deny and refute this comment or at least say, “I don’t remember.”

  9. Wondering – Personally, I do not think the 9 years was excessive. But, for the sake of argument, even if it was, Ganim’s arrogance kept him from taking a plea and getting a much reduced sentence. Had he pled guilty, he would have been back with his family by now. I repeat, the man did it to himself.

  10. Yes, Ganim was his own worst enemy. when he took the stand, he was under the assumption that the jury wasn’t as smart as he is and that was a big mistake. His arrogance did him in. I think Rowland should have gotten more than a year by the way. I do feel sorry for Joe’s kids, but he wasn’t thinking of them when he was busy fattening his wallet, he just thought he’d get away with it. He didn’t need money, he comes from a rich family, he was just plain greedy. Pinto who is nothing but a thief in an expensive suit should be sued by the City and made to pay Alex Conroy a big piece of the money he conned out of everyone if Conroy wins his case.

  11. I have no sympathy for Joe Ganim whatsoever. Due to his arrogance and corruption, Bridgeport missed out on one of the biggest economic growth periods in our country’s history. It would serve him right to be raped every day in stir just as he and his cohorts raped our city and taxpayers.


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