Courant Story Sheds Light On Ganim’s Release

The Hartford Courant’s Ed Mahony breaks new ground behind former Mayor Joe Ganim’s early release from the joint and prosecutors’ efforts to deny his motion for early termination of probation. Check out Mahony’s Sunday article:

In an advertisement for his new business–counseling soon-to-be-imprisoned white-collar criminals–former Bridgeport mayor Joseph P. Ganim says what every convict wants to hear: There are programs hidden in the federal prison bureaucracy that can get you out early.

Ganim knows. He found one.

After he was sentenced to nine years for collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in payoffs, Ganim convinced prison administrators he had a substance abuse problem. That got him into a prison drug rehabilitation program. The reward for completing the program was a sentence reduction. He was out of custody in seven years.

He explains on the Internet site for his business, The Federal Prison Consultant (

“I have vast and very unique knowledge and expertise of all matters related to the U.S. Federal prison system. … I have personal knowledge and experience with the Federal Bureau of Prison’s Residential Drug Program (R.D.A.P) along with the incentive of up to 1 year reduction in your sentence for successful completion.”

The claim of substance dependency that led to Ganim’s early release came almost on the eve of his incarceration and stunned the prosecutors and investigators who thought they knew–after months of investigation, surveillance, wiretapping and prosecution–about all there was to known about the mayor. No evidence of substance abuse had surfaced, and Ganim denied any.

Years later and still skeptical, prosecutors now are turning the tables on Ganim, using his last-minute claim of substance dependence to block his latest legal gambit. Having reduced his prison sentence, the always-defiant ex-mayor now is trying to cut short his supervised release–in his case a three-year probationary period during which he must submit to post-prison supervision by the federal court.

If Ganim prevails, he will be able to devote himself to rehabilitation, free from federal scrutiny for the first time in more than a decade. He has begun an effort to win reinstatement of his right to practice law. And he is mentioned regularly in political conversations.

Starting Over

When he was indicted on Halloween in 2001, Ganim was the mayor who pulled the state’s largest city from the brink of collapse and a strong Democratic contender for governor. After 50 prosecution witnesses testified against him at trial, he was the mayor who arranged for bribes to be delivered as luxury goods–investment quality wine, hand-tailored clothing, even building materials for a new house.

He was back in the news less than a year after his release–but for giving money away, specifically $1,000 from a charity he founded to a church group that helps children. He claims in court papers to have distributed about $7,000 in charitable donations and about $6,000 more in scholarships, although the money came from his family’s law firm and other donors.

He has rejoined the regulars at Testo’s Ristorante in Bridgeport who talk politics with the owner, Bridgeport Democratic Town Chairman Mario Testa. In spite of Ganim’s enforced absence from local politics, he led a poll commissioned last summer by the influential website Only in Bridgeport–operated, incidentally, by his former friend and co-defendant Leonard Grimaldi–when matched in a hypothetical head-to-head contest for mayor against incumbent Bill Finch. Ganim’s lead in the poll increased when the field of candidates widened.

Finch was re-elected last week while Ganim watched from the sidelines.

Even though Ganim is once again a topic of political conversation in Bridgeport, those who know him well won’t talk about his case, at least in public. The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment, as did Ganim, who said he has been advised not to discuss pending legal matters.

But information provided by other sources reveals, for the first time publicly, details of how Ganim’s early release was arranged.

His admission to the drug program was based largely on a letter from a psychiatrist who examined him in August 2003–after Ganim was sentenced, but before he reported to prison. At the same time, Ganim tested positive on a test for drug use, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.

Even during the weeks immediately before he was sentenced on July 1, 2003, Ganim denied ever using illegal drugs or controlled substances. He said he drank occasionally. No one doubted him.

Ganim could have asked U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton to recommend that he be admitted to the prison drug program when she sentenced him, something criminal defendants with substance abuse problems often do. He did not.

Prosecutors and probation officers in Connecticut did not learn of Ganim’s claim of substance abuse and his admission into the drug treatment program until 2009–six years into his nine-year sentence. That was the same year the Bureau of Prisons tightened the rules that were in effect when Ganim was admitted to the drug treatment and early release program. A prison official said the timing of the two events is coincidental.

The change closed a loophole that gave convicted and sentenced criminals a chance to arrange positive drug tests after they were certain they were going to prison. Critics complained that it was easier for inmates to get into the program under the old rules.

Before the loophole was closed, a positive result on a drug test taken any time up to a convict’s prison reporting date could be used to qualify for admission to the sentence-reducing drug program. Since the Bureau of Prisons amended the policy in March 2009, applicants to the program have been required to show they were substance abusers during the year before they were arrested.

Singing His Praises

To support his request for an early end to his three years of supervised release, Ganim argues that he should be given credit for an outstanding prison record. His motion contains more than 250 pages of supporting documents, including more than two dozen letters from other inmates.

“As a former Township Administrator sentenced for one count of mail fraud, Mr. Ganim and I, immediately, recognized a common ground to begin our relationship,” wrote Joseph Auriemma, convicted of taking $35,000 in home improvements from a municipal contractor while he was administrator of North Bergen, N.J.

Jeffrey Gold, convicted of taking millions of dollars in kickbacks when he ran a New York real estate management company, wrote that he appreciated Ganim’s fitness advice. (When Ganim was mayor, one of the illegal gifts he took was a $2,000 piece of home exercise equipment.)

“I first came in contact with him in our recreation room when I was trying to get myself in better shape, having left myself ‘fall apart’ over the past 35 years,” Gold wrote. “With his help, I was able to lose enough weight that resulted in a positive way by reducing my blood sugar count.”

Robert Mauri, sentenced for misappropriating more than $3 million as a director of a Wall Street investment bank, said he found a career counseling program Ganim ran for inmates to be of great value.

“I will add that it was very informative and helpful in how I may approach the job market when I leave here,” Mauri wrote.

Ganim also documents in his motion, among other things, meritorious citations for volunteerism in prison. He designed and ran a recycling program. He helped design and set up a law library for inmates. He led classes on a variety of subjects for inmates and counseled at-risk youths. He provides specifics of his community service and charitable giving since his release and points out that he promptly paid $325,000 in fines, forfeitures and restitution.

He said he has worked as a paralegal for a law firm in New Haven and will donate “over 1,800 hours” of free legal work if he is allowed by the state bar to regain his license to practice law.

Drug Treatment Redux?

Prosecutors make two points in opposition.

Good behavior, they argue, is expected of prisoners and Ganim should not be given consideration for doing what was expected of him. More significantly, they oppose Ganim on grounds related to his admission to the prison drug program.

In October 2009, after learning that Ganim had been admitted to a drug treatment program in prison that, incidentally, qualified him for early release, the probation office arranged to have a new condition added to the terms of his supervised release: a requirement that he continue substance abuse treatment after prison.

The new condition said, “The defendant shall participate in a program approved by the Probation Office for inpatient or outpatient substance abuse treatment and testing. The defendant shall pay all or a portion of the costs associated with treatment based on the defendant’s ability to pay as determined by the probation officer.”

Federal prosecutors now say there have seen nothing to demonstrate that Ganim has complied. It would be a mistake, the prosecutors argue, to reward Ganim with early termination of his supervised release if he has ignored one of its conditions.

Prosecutors wrote in their motion:

“The Government objects to the defendant’s motion to terminate supervised release because the defendant has not established any new and compelling circumstances that would justify a modification to the terms of his sentence and, perhaps more importantly, has failed to demonstrate he is even participating in a program approved by the Probation Office for inpatient or outpatient substance abuse treatment and testing–one of the conditions of his supervised release.”

Arterton has not indicated when she will rule on Ganim’s motion.



  1. One thing, Lennie, neither Joe Ganim nor Ernie Newton should be a representative in a political situation as BOTH violated the public trust. It’s all well and good they both went to jail and came out after serving their legal sentences (additionally probation and out-of-jail treatments notwithstanding), but there are other prices to pay for their actions and being in public office should not be allowed. If the constituents they both represented don’t care or think by having been convicted and gone to jail is sufficient, they are wrong. It’s okay to forgive, but never forget. Once a thief, always a thief.

      1. It isn’t trusting the voters Len, it’s the ethical and moral thing to do. If the voters want these two then Bridgeport stands to be the recipient of Ganim’s and Newton’s reputations. That can affect credit ratings and any legitimate outside investors among other issues their reputations represent.

  2. Old Cycle: I will lose faith in democracy if what’s-his-name wins the primary …
    New Cycle: trust the voters to decide.

    bonus: Mojo has many friends but NO PEERS.

  3. Joe did what he had to do and what was best for Joe and there is nothing wrong with that. Like it or not they both will get elected when they decide what is the best position to run for. I still think Mr. Newton should run for his old state rep. position first where he would win in a landslide.

      1. … yet another Jim Fox alias, nice! Ronin, cupcake, antitestoo, Jim Fox, did I leave anyone out? Still lost the election, Jim! How come you didn’t call me an a-hole to my face on election day? You shook my hand and asked for my vote, but no disparaging remarks face to face.

  4. Let’s face it. The people of Bridgeport are dumb asses when it comes to their individual responsibility to vote in primaries and general elections. Actually the people of Bridgeport can be defined as being insane if you agree the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. The Bridgeport dummies expect great things but just do not get out and vote for the change they so loudly decree.

    Therefore, it is an absolute certainty Joe Ganim and Ernest Newton would be elected by mandate, so to speak. In actuality they would be put back into office by the people who find it necessary to get to the polls each and every time. These people are the ones who have jobs to protect or family in jobs who need protecting or are vendors or families of vendors who are sitting on lucrative contracts that were given to them by the political powers that be.

    Joe Ganim and Ernest Newton don’t deserve to return to elected office. There are better people out there.

    I, personally, will do all I can to make sure neither succeeds.

  5. If they have put in their time and the law allows them to again seek public office then let the people decide. We have to believe in the system. Joe Ganim paid a high price for his actions. He will never be able to relive his missed time with his young family. Anyone who puts in the time for the crime deserves a second chance.

  6. As we stroll through the last weeks of Bill Finch’s first term as Bridgeport Mayor where he survived a primary challenge and a second challenge by a Republican banner bearer who is a member of the Latino “minority,” and where the 19% turnout may have hit a historic low for a community that wallows in low absolute and % of registered voters casting ballots.

    The adult electorate must be satisfied. They are not fed up. They did not stand up. They do not speak up. And the Finch issue for four years was “not raising taxes,” and for the most part he did not. But Bill Finch’s responsibility was to preside over a balanced budget for four years, and in significant respects he did not. How do you submit unbalanced budgets, get them accepted with few if any challenge or changes, and essentially run four years without a major bone-crushing, finger-pointing property tax increase that wakes up the body politic??? What you do is submit technically unbalanced budgets (by deferring current costs into the future as added liabilities, debt, etc.) where another Mayor perhaps and different Council persons will have to wrestle with the deficit from out of nowhere. That is what happened to Bucci and Moran 20 years ago. Very few people were watching the pot until the money burned up, $53 Million deficit appeared and the “911 call” went up to the State of CT and came back with a Financial Review Board, a reformation of process (for a while), some new liquidity based on borrowed money with the State backing, and some Charter changes. We also started out with over $50 Million in “unrestricted and unreserved City fund balance” that had steadily deteriorated through Ganim, Fabrizi and the first two years of the Finch administration to $10 Million. And from the info provided to our elected “check and balance” group, they cannot tell you effectively how much current expenses have been deferred into negative balance-sheet items to be dealt with in a future year, with a current charge for interest. What fiscal documentation do Council members see to tell them about balance-sheet assets and liabilities these days? Any days? How can you be a check on anything if you are not fully and timely informed? Time will tell.


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