Panel considers former Hartford Mayor's appeal

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) -- Former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez says, "It's in the Lord's hands." He's talking about the appeal of his bribery and extortion convictions that was heard by a three judge panel in Hartford Tuesday.

It was 32 months ago that Perez was convicted of bribery and extortion. He resigned from office a week later. In September of 2010 he was sentenced to three years in prison, but he has remained free pending the appeal.

Tuesday his lawyer told the three judge panel that when prosecutors presented their bribery case against Perez, it became impossible to defend him on the extortion charge at the same time. And that's why there should have been separate trials on the two charges.

"All of this was thrown at the jury in one sitting and by the time we got up to present our defense, it was pretty well...we were pretty cooked, so to speak," said attorney Hubert Santos.

The bribery involved the new bathroom and kitchen in the Perez home that was done by a city contractor who testified on the stand he didn't expect get paid.

The extortion case involved the alleged attempt to get a developer to pay North End political power broker Abe Giles $100,000 to vacate a city parking lot in exchange for help in the 2007 election.

Assistant Chief State's Attorney Harry Weller told the judges to reject the argument because since the jury found Perez innocent on the charge of fabricating evidence, it's clear they were paying close attention and were able to separate the two cases.

"The jury not only separated the charges, but separated the elements," Weller said. "When you have proof like that on top of a presumption, there's just no question here that the jury kept the cases separate and reached separate verdicts."

Perez's lawyer is arguing that the convictions should be over-turned and that he get two new trials with two different juries. If the appellate court turns him down, he can appeal to the State Supreme Court.
     
The three appellate court judges could deliver their opinion in a matter of days, or it could take weeks.

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