A state law says public officials can lose their pensions if they commit a crime related to their public office. But what happens if a conviction is overturned? That’s the question in the case of former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez.
After his 2010 conviction on bribery and extortion charges, Perez was sued by the state as it went after his public pension. Since then, a state appellate court overturned the guilty verdicts. The judges said there was enough evidence to convict the former mayor, but that the trial court made procedural errors that merit two new trials. But state prosecutors have asked the state Supreme Court to hear the case. It’s not yet decided whether it will.
And, as a result, the case of Perez’s pension is in what state Attorney General George Jepsen calls a holding pattern.
“My office cannot seek revocation of a pension unless there is a conviction for a specific felony in place,” Jepsen said. “And it’s up in the air right now as to whether Eddie Perez’s conviction will be upheld or, as in the case of the appellate court, thrown out.”
Attorneys on both sides held a status conference Tuesday with the judge in the pension case, which was continued. Jepsen said his office is waiting to see what the supreme court does. So is Perez.
"It's been a struggle," said Bart Halloran, Perez's attorney in the pension case. "As you might imagine, with all of this hanging over him, it hasn't exactly been easy to find employment. And he's trying the best he can, but it really has been difficult for him. So, to receive the pension is significant for him."
Halloran says Perez has a minor role in an insurance agency, but no significant employment. When it comes to the criminal case against his client, Halloran says there were some discussions about resolving it between the parties. But he says those discussion apparently are over for now.