"Mr. Rose," a state inspector wrote to John Rose, the city's attorney, "I am requesting the following items relative to my investigation …"
In January, Perez was arrested on bribery and other charges related to the work at his home done by city contractor Carlos Costa, who was also arrested. Costa told investigators that he never expected to get paid; Perez, who has pleaded not guilty, said that he always intended to pay Costa, although he didn't do so until investigators came knocking.
The day that Perez was charged at the state police barracks in downtown Hartford, the office of Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane said that it expected more arrests as a result of the grand jury probe. But now, as April 24 approaches and the grand jury apparently nears its expiration, the inquiry that has asked dozens of people thousands of questions has left a lot of people with just one:
Is that it?
Lots Of Uncertainties"I wish I knew enough to say that it will be a relief when it's over," said city Councilman Pedro Segarra. "But since there's so many uncertainties, not knowing how this will end — I can't say that."
"We're dealing with a universe of uncertainty that is overwhelming," he said.
The grand jury began on Oct. 24, 2007, with a six-month term. Its term has been extended twice; it cannot be extended a third time. State law gives grand juries the power to compel testimony as they try to find sufficient evidence to bring charges. Prosecutors lose that power when the grand jury's term expires.
Once the investigation is over, Superior Court Judge Dennis Eveleigh — who serves as the inquiry's grand jury — has 60 days, by law, to file a report.
Regardless of how it ends, Kane's investigation has already cost the city. Two years of dealing with rumors, allegations and, finally, criminal charges has worn down many at city hall. Perez's January arrest was followed by a nasty public power struggle on the city council. Perez's pending October trial hangs over him, his administration and the city.
Segarra calls it "perpetual stuckness." Minority Leader Larry Deutsch said it "sidetracks attention" from important issues and makes city politicians focus on shifting alliances. Democratic Majority Leader rJo Winch called it a distraction. Councilman Matt Ritter says the end can't come soon enough.
"It will end the speculation and rumors, and they have been very destabilizing to people in Hartford because everyone assumes that they hear a rumor and it's true," Ritter said. "At least we'll know everything that's on the table within two to three months and then we can act accordingly."
Then there is the immeasurable cost of a bad image: The developer who goes elsewhere. The money that doesn't come. The laws that don't get passed.
"Quite often, I'll hear from these people at the [Capitol] — What are you guys going to do about the mayor?" said Councilman Luis Cotto of the Working Families Party.
"So, what are we losing because of this thing that's hanging out there?" Cotto asked. "For people to be thinking like that, you can't help but think it's a pervasive thing that's clouding the city."
Steep Legal BillsThe investigation has also had a real dollars-and-cents cost for a city deep in the red. All together, dozens of city officials and other witnesses have gone to the closed courtroom at Superior Court in New Britain, where the grand jury is based, waiting their turn in the often busy hallway next to parents in custody disputes, spouses divorcing and tax attorneys being tax attorneys.
As the grand jury called city employees, the city has paid the bill — about $135,000 on legal fees, city records show. Perez has not submitted his bills for reimbursement.
The city has also spent about $60,000 on legal fees to fight the public disclosure of documents it turned over to investigators. The Courant has sought the documents in question.