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Conn. Mayor Faces Federal Charges

November 01, 2001|Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. — The mayor of Bridgeport was charged in a federal racketeering indictment Wednesday with seeking more than $425,000 in bribes to steer business to friends and associates.

Mayor Joseph Ganim, 42, faces 24 counts, including extortion, bribery, mail fraud and conspiracy.

He said he would plead not guilty and has no plans to step down as mayor of Connecticut's largest city.

"I'm being falsely accused. I've done nothing wrong. I've never taken one dime as a part of a conspiracy, nor have I ever authorized anyone to take money on my behalf," Ganim said.

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 also have admitted overcharging Bridgeport for removal of asbestos from abandoned properties and contaminated soil from the site of a sports arena.

Ganim accused the other defendants of lying "to save their own skin."

Once considered a top contender for governor in 2002, Ganim is serving his fifth term as mayor for an annual salary of $106,591.

According to the indictment, Ganim in 1999 gave a client of his former campaign manager, Leonard Grimaldi, a long-term extension of a contract to manage the Bridgeport sewage facility.

In return, Ganim and Paul Pinto, a fund-raiser and friend of Ganim, each received kickbacks from Grimaldi of about $156,000, prosecutors said. Grimaldi and Pinto have pleaded guilty to federal charges that include racketeering and tax fraud.

If convicted, Ganim could face up to 176 years in prison and be ordered to forfeit the $425,000 and pay up to $6 million in fines.

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