Former Police Chief AJ Perez and ex Personnel Director David Dunn are expected to enter guilty pleas Monday morning in federal court to rigging the 2018 exam that aided Perez’s top-cop selection.
The government’s 25-page criminal complaint is a damning declaration of Perez’s insecurity to achieve test worthiness on his own including two police subordinates who aided him in the insider help. One of them recorded conversations with Perez that fit nicely into the government’s account of a panicky Perez seeking assistance after he had a heads-up on the test questions unavailable to any other chief candidate.
Lawyers for the two defendants made an assessment of the government’s case. You’ll spend a lot of time, money, effort to lose. Plead out.
What now? Both Perez and Dunn want to avoid jail time. It will be much harder for Perez to achieve that based on the government’s case thus far. He’s at the top of the food chain. Who would be higher? Ta-da! Mayor Joe Ganim.
Dunn had plenty to offer the government on Perez, but nothing to offer about Ganim. He says he had no contact with Ganim during the process about any funny business going on nor was he ordered to scheme with Perez to rig the test.
Ganim says he had no idea that Dunn and Perez had conspired to rig the test, asserting he did not insert himself into the process other than to select Perez from three finalists presented to him.
Dunn is 73 years old with 30 years experience in municipal service covering four different mayors. If he has something extra to offer the government, his lawyer Fred Paoletti will want him to cooperate to lessen his prison exposure. If he has nothing extra to add this process will be fairly straightforward. Dunn will enter a plea in federal court, a probation officer will craft a report that covers his responsibility in the scheme as well as his personal and professional history presented to a judge in the meting out of a sentence. The government and Paoletti will also file court briefs in the cause of their respective cases.
Dunn will submit letters from friends to the court to provide the judge a positive portal into his life. Paoletti will likely argue Dunn’s role in this was aberrant behavior, not the norm of his life and urge no prison time. Covid rampaging through prison facilities could aide Dunn’s cause given his age. Dunn will likely be sentenced in early 2021.
If Dunn’s sentencing is delayed for a period of time that could signal he has something else to offer the government which will file motions with the court.
The above also applies to Perez except as chief and a career law enforcement official it will be more difficult to wrangle a low prison sentence. He’s also about 10 years younger than Dunn. If he has something else to offer the government federal agents and prosecutors will be suspicious given one of his charges was providing false statements. (Dunn as well.) They will want to make sure what he has is solid.
If this starts and ends with Perez he will then throw himself at the mercy of the court backed by an avalanche of community letters attesting to his better side. He, too, then would likely be sentenced in early 2021.
It’s a lonely time for the genial Perez, once arguably the second most powerful official in Bridgeport. Fly high one day, crash mightily the next.