Both Bridgeport Mayor Joseph P. Ganim — who said he’ll plead innocent Friday to federal corruption charges — and the government lawyers lined up against him face a tough legal battle as Ganim becomes one of the first Connecticut mayors prosecuted with wiretap evidence.
Ganim, 42, was charged Wednesday in a 24-count federal indictment. He is to be arraigned Friday in New Haven on charges he sought more than $425,000 in cash, merchandise, services and meals in return for steering city business to friends and associates.
“He’s in for a dog fight,” said Hugh Keefe, a defense attorney in New Haven who has defended mayors in Danbury and Waterbury on corruption charges. “He’s in for the fight of his life.”
Ganim will not seek a plea bargain, attorney Richard Meehan Jr. said Thursday. “He’s committed to going the distance,” Meehan said.
Other Connecticut mayors have successfully fought corruption charges, including former Danbury Mayor James Dyer. Former Bridgeport Mayor John Mandanici was never indicted, despite many guilty pleas involving lower level officials.
But former Waterbury Mayor Joseph J. Santopietro served more than 6 years in prison on corruption charges.
Ganim’s case is likely to be exceedingly complex, said Todd Fernow, a law professor with the University of Connecticut.
“It could take a very long time,” Fernow said. “It will have a lot of twists and turns.”
The Bridgeport scandal is one of the first political corruption cases in Connecticut involving the extensive use of wiretap evidence, said Joseph Hutchison, a former assistant U.S. attorney now in private practice in Bridgeport, and Stanley Twardy Jr., the former U.S. attorney in Connecticut.
The other case is in Waterbury, where Mayor Philip Giordano is charged with violating the civil rights of two children by forcing them to engage in sexual acts. Authorities learned of the alleged sexual conduct while investigating broader allegations of municipal corruption in Waterbury.