Bridgeport Mayor Joseph P. Ganim pleaded innocent Monday to federal corruption charges under a revised 24-count federal indictment.
He pleaded innocent to the same charges last November. But a federal grand jury returned an amended indictment last month, changing some dates and details of the allegations against him.
Ganim said the need for a new indictment proves that he is innocent.
“What’s become apparent is that they are being conned by the same people that conned me and my city for years,” Ganim said on the steps of U.S. District Court.
“I’ve done nothing wrong. I’m innocent of these charges,” he said, to the applause of dozens of Bridgeport residents who came to court to support him.
Prosecutors allege Ganim accepted more than $425,000 in cash, luxury goods, meals, home improvements and other items in exchange for favorable treatment on city contracts.
They have boxes of documents and countless hours of audio tapes which they say back up their allegations. Ten other defendants, including some close associates of Ganim, have pleaded guilty to related charges and are expected to testify against Ganim.
Gamin said the government’s witnesses will be people who have told prosecutors stories “to save their own skins.”
Ganim is charged with racketeering, extortion, mail fraud, bribery and tax evasion.
The amended indictment includes a series of letters written by other defendants in connection with a sewer contract that authorities allege was part of a kickback scheme.
Richard Meehan, Ganim’s attorney, had claimed the original indictment alleging mail fraud cited mailings that violated a five-year statute of limitations on such charges.
The new pleas before Federal Magistrate Joan Margolis took less than five minutes to enter. As he entered the pleas, his infant son Robert made noise in the courthouse hallway.
Relatives, administration supporters, dozens of city residents, ministers and Democratic party officials made a show of support at the courthouse.
“He’s done a lot of work for the city,” said Democratic town committee member Eva Canales. “The people, they see what he’s done for the city.”
Another longtime Bridgeport resident, Frank Smith, said crime is down and city finances are recovering because of Ganim’s work.
People in Bridgeport do not believe the allegations against Ganim, Smith said.
“A lot of politics is being played,” he said.
Ganim’s trial is scheduled to begin in January following jury selection in December.