Conn. Mayor Faces Racketeering Charge
The mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut's largest city, was charged in a 24-count federal indictment accusing him of racketeering, extortion, bribery, mail fraud and conspiracy.
Mayor Joseph P. Ganim, 42, is accused of seeking more than $425,000 in bribes including cash, merchandise, services and meals in return for steering city business to friends and associates.
Nine people, including several close associates of Ganim, have pleaded guilty since June to federal charges ranging from racketeering and bribery to fraud.
The defendants, including a Democratic Party fund-raiser, Ganim's former campaign manager and a college friend, have admitted seeking or paying bribes to win favorable treatment on contracts.
The defendants have also admitted overcharging Bridgeport for removal of asbestos from abandoned properties and contaminated soil from the site of a downtown sports arena.
Once considered a top contender for governor in 2002, Ganim has adamantly denied any wrongdoing.
Ganim is charged with single counts of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, bribery and criminal forfeiture; two counts each of extortion, conspiracy and filing false income tax returns, and 14 counts of mail fraud. He was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in New Haven on Friday.
According to the indictment, in 1999 Ganim gave a client of Leonard J. Grimaldi a long-term extension of a contract to manage the Bridgeport wastewater treatment facility.
Grimaldi is Ganim's former campaign manager. He pleaded guilty June 14 to federal charges of racketeering and tax fraud.
In return, Ganim and Paul J. Pinto - a fund-raiser and friend of Ganim - each received kickbacks from Grimaldi of about $156,000, prosecutors said. Pinto pleaded guilty June 13 to charges of racketeering, mail fraud and tax fraud.
Investigators said Ganim also caused the city to fraudulently purchase a $1 million insurance policy on his life, and schemed to extend the municipal sewer system to his home for free.
If convicted, Ganim could face up to 176 years in prison and be ordered for forfeit the $425,000 and pay up to $6 million in fines.
Ganim is the second mayor of a major Connecticut city to be indicted on federal charges this year. Waterbury Mayor Philip Giordano has been jailed since his July 26 arrest and is charged in a 14-count indictment with violating the civil rights of two children by forcing them to engage in sexual acts.
FBI (news - web sites) Special Agent Michael J. Wolf said Wednesday that the agency has aggressively pursued municipal corruption in Connecticut.
``This corruption initiative ... will continue until such time that the city is freed of those individuals who place personal gain over the needs and interests of the good people of Bridgeport,'' he said.