The former police chief of Connecticut’s largest city was sentenced Monday,12 April, to one year and one day in prison for rigging the hiring process that led to his appointment in 2018.
A federal judge in Bridgeport handed down the punishment to Armando A.J. Perez, who rose through the ranks of Bridgeport police to lead the department over a nearly four-decade career there. He and the city’s former acting personnel director, David Dunn, resigned in September and pleaded guilty the following month to defrauding the city and making false statements to FBI agents in connection with the scheme.
Prosecutors said Perez, 65, the first Hispanic chief of the department, received confidential information about the police chief’s examination stolen by Dunn, including the questions for an oral examination and the scoring guide for written essays. Perez, who was the acting chief at the time, also admitted that he had two officers complete his essays, passed the work off as his own and lied to federal authorities in an effort to cover up his actions.
Perez ended up being ranked among the top three candidates for the police chief’s job and was appointed by Mayor Joe Ganim, who has been close to Perez for years. Ganim, who served seven years in prison for corruption during his first stint as mayor from 1991 to 2003, has denied wrongdoing in Perez’s appointment and has not been charged.
Dunn is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday, ABC News reports.
Perez, dressed in a suit, tie and a mask in court, apologized to the city, his family and federal investigators for the crimes during the sentencing hearing before U.S. district judge Kari Dooley.
“I accept responsibility. I am so sorry, I spent all my life on the right side of the table and I betrayed myself. I should have said no. I did this to myself, your honour. I did this to myself. I betrayed myself and then I panicked,” ” he said.
Perez also was ordered to pay nearly $300,000 in restitution to the city and perform 100 hours of community service after the prison sentence, which he will begin serving on May 24.
In court documents before the sentencing, Perez had asked the judge to not send him to prison and sentence him instead to home confinement and probation. He said he has taken full responsibility, is now suffering financial hardship and is susceptible to serious complications from the coronavirus because of health problems including hypertension.
He had faced up to two years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.
Federal prosecutors asked for a “meaningful” term of imprisonment, saying the crimes were serious and a message needed to be sent that corruption at the highest levels of city government carries significant consequences.
The state attorney general’s office also has gone to court seeking to revoke Perez and Dunn’s city pensions under state corruption laws.
Before the sentencing, Perez submitted numerous letters from supporters praising his good character and the good he has done for the city.
Dunn’s attorney, Frederick Paoletti, wrote in a sentencing recommendation that Dunn helped Perez because he believed Perez was the most qualified candidate for the chief’s job but faced some difficulties in the hiring process.