The Legal Costs To Settle The Controversy Over Manny’s Mansion

Manny's mansion
Developer Manny Moutinho’s Stratford mansion. Image courtesy of Morgan Kaolian.

The construction for the controversial access road to developer Manny Moutinho’s Stratford mansion as part of an airport safety improvement plan cost $389,000, a figure Superior Court Judge Dale Radcliffe ruled city taxpayers were under no obligation to pay. In the cause of what city officials say was public safety the city has scrambled to keep egg off its face since the Connecticut Post broke this story in 2013 and former Airport Manager John Ricci, a casualty of the process, told OIB city officials made him a scapegoat for approving the deal that has now cost taxpayers from a legal settlement additionally above the dubious construction costs.

The City Council will vote soon to approve a legal settlement with Breakwater Key, the Stratford condominium association that won the driveway suit in court, that is in the neighborhood of $60,000, according to city sources, but others maintain is collaterally higher depending on interpretation of “settlement.” The city chose to pay Moutinho to improve his property, building at risk with a pending appeal. The city did not file intervenor status in the case to protect taxpayer interests.

OIB has received and confirmed some of the direct costs of  the court settlement involving Breakwater Key and other associated expenses.

The city hired outside legal counsel Ira Bloom to negotiate the settlement. Bloom is a land use specialist with the law firm Berchem, Moses & Devlin. He was paid roughly $20,000. Fence, shrubs and landscaping fees will cost $22,000. The fees for the Breakwater Key Condo land use attorney Richard Saxl, $32,000.

The costs do not include time, effort and costs compiled by lawyers for the City Attorney’s Office. One question comes down to what exactly does the city consider fees associated with the settlement? Fees paid directly to cover Breakwater Key costs such as Saxl’s fees and landscaping costs amount to roughly $55,000. Where does the city categorize Bloom’s $20,000 fee to settle the case approved by the court?

Interestingly, no staffer within the City’s Attorney’s Office could finesse a settlement.

What is not yet clear are other potential associated costs of the project, including construction plans, engineering inspection and testing fees and an additional fire hydrant with a price tag of roughly $90,000. Are they part of the $389,000 road construction cost paid to Moutinho, or in addition?



  1. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Bridgeport taxpayers have already paid too much for this debacle. If there are any additional costs they should be borne by the homeowners benefiting from the “driveway.”

  2. Can someone please tell me why we have a city attorney’s office? We pay these dopes $100s of thousands of dollars and just what do they do? Zip, Nada, Nothing, Zero.
    We have to pay thousands to an outside law firm to negotiate a simple deal with the condo association.
    The city attorney’s office is 100% responsible for what has happened at the airport. Why hasn’t the lawyer who was involved in the Manny deal been fired? Her attitude as quoted in the paper says it all. Finch and Anastasi worked this deal and Ricci and the people of Bridgeport got screwed.
    This damn airport has become a pain in the ass. It loses money every year which means taxpayers picks up the deficit. Why is it open? It’s open so a few non-resident elitists have a place to park their planes. Time to close the airport?

    1. Andrew C Fardy, your question and concern is one of the most important questions that needs to be answered but the problem is who is going to answer it. Mark Anastasi, the City Attorney, is without doubt the biggest roadblock in anything involving business in Bridgeport, he rules with no challenge from anyone. The legal work is farmed out to law firms all around the state that do business with the state and make donations to the state Democratic Party.

    2. Strictly politics. Not one of the city attorneys could work for a private law firm. They are singularly incapable of doing work that requires bringing in dollars. They are leeches and flies with public power. Anastasi is the worst. When confronted by someone with more knowledge or experience than he has, he backs off. I know of no lawyer in the private sector who would act like that and keep his/her job.

    1. Phil,
      If history serves as a guide, they will go into “executive session” and the debate will be out of public sight and hearing as you well know. The funds used will come from what source, what funding account and/or what failure to spend the amount appropriated in the current budget? The way things are today, you may never know, but in the absence of purchasing audits (completed by an Internal Auditor as directed by Ordinance, but completely ignored since enacted 12 or more years ago) and/or in the absence of a FINAL JUNE fiscal year end Report from City Finance office that indicates that it is in accord with audit adjustments (and that takes an additional 7 months anyway after the end of a Fiscal Year) we may never know how the taxpayer funds have been spent.
      How do taxpayers feel about that? Time will tell.

  3. Seems until the following is made public:
    (1) a complete accounting of costs through 2013 (i.e., any costs that occurred as a result of deciding to take on the permits and project commonly known as “the driveway debacle”), and
    (2) a complete listing of additional cost estimates from 1/1/14 through completion the Mayor and the Airport Committee he co-chairs have reviewed and stand by …

    it wouldn’t be prudent for the City Council to approve/disapprove of anything regarding this.

    B’port city government has to stop the “we’ll figure it out later” approach. The city cannot afford such costly mistakes … again and again. And spare us the post hoc impassioned explanations (e.g., we had to do it to save lives).

    (BTW: Is there any state that might need Mr. Anastasi to go there to run for lt. governor?)

  4. 1. Can someone tell me who’s going to maintain this driveway and the underground utilitie?
    2. How did this project circumvent the CAM report? (Coastal Area Management)
    3. When will the City Council lien the property’s owner’s for the cost of this morass?
    4. Has the DOJ been notified yet?

  5. Grin Ripper // Jul 9, 2013 at 2:11 am

    If Candee had come in at the lowest bid this would still end up being a circle jerk by the mayor and his legal staff. The truthers on this site will next be coming up with the conspiracy theory Ricci orchestrated the zoning appeal turnover with the Judge. Furthermore, Moutinho had no plans to build an access road until the appeal had been heard. In fact the city attorney’s office knew full well they were going to be at risk and recommended to go full steam ahead. City failed to ask for intervenor status and now is left holding their hand on their asses because of shoddy legal work by the city’s Clarence Darrow.

  6. “What is not yet clear are other potential associated costs of the project, including construction plans, engineering inspection and testing fees and an additional fire hydrant with a price tag of roughly $90,000. Are they part of the $389,000 road construction cost paid to Moutinho, or in addition?”

    The city has now filed an intervenor status request with Judge Radcliffe for the settlement process. Mountinho is on the hook for his legal bills to the tune of $35k because of Bridgeport’s legal negligence. Lisa Trachtenberg has been replaced on this project by city attorney Ron Pacecha. Shouldn’t Anastasi be canned tuna, too?


Leave a Reply