Before It Releases Subpoena, Hartford Waits to Hear From Feds

Oct 29, 2013

Credit Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Attorneys for Mayor Pedro Segarra say they are still waiting to hear from federal prosecutors as to whether they can release a federal grand jury subpoena.

On Friday, the city announced it had received a subpoena from the feds. They're apparently looking into the relationship between city Treasurer Adam Cloud and insurance broker Earl O'Garro, who runs Hybrid Insurance Group. It's a story we've covered pretty extensively over the past few weeks. You can learn more about it throughout our website.

We asked the city for the subpoena last week. In response, we got just the cover letter -- proof that the subpoena existed, but not much more. Information as to what the feds are looking for is on an attachment.  But the city said that attachment is exempt from disclosure. It said the federal rules of criminal procedure protect the secrecy of federal grand jury investigations, and, therefore, of the attachment.

Lawyers we spoke to yesterday took issue with that claim. And we did, too. We asked the city to reconsider its position. On Monday, we got another email from Deputy Corporation Counsel L. John Van Norden. In it, he said that the "U.S. Attorney has indicated they view the subpoena itself as subject to grand jury secrecy and as 'sealed.' We have asked for clarification."

Now, the Van Norden said he has given federal prosecutors a deadline of 5 p.m. today.

While our preference is always transparency, the U.S. Attorney’s office on Friday requested we not release the entire subpoena because it would interfere with the on-going investigation by the grand jury. We have requested confirmation from the U.S. Attorney’s office by 5pm today as to whether the subpoena is sealed or not. If the subpoena is not sealed, it will be released in its entirety as we respect and appreciate the public’s significant interest in this matter.  

Van Norden has earlier suggested that, if the document is "sealed," that would prevent its release. Which would leave one question: 

If the document is sealed, wouldn't the city have violated that seal last week when it released the cover page of the subpoena?

More to come.