HARTFORD –—Mayor Eddie A. Perez's reading ability and the screening of his e-mails continued Friday to be a focus of his corruption trial.
Those issues go to the heart of whether the mayor is to be believed when he told investigators in 2007 that he never saw an e-mail from a developer reminding the mayor that political ally Abraham Giles was demanding $100,000 to vacate city-owned land coveted by the developer. The e-mail is central to the state's assertion that Perez tried to help Giles get paid off in exchange for Giles' galvanizing support for the mayor in a divided North End political district.
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Friday, prosectuor Michael Gailor and defense witness Matthew Hennessy, the mayor's former chief of staff and politicial director, sparred over the extent of any reading disablity the mayor might have,
"The mayor can read, right?" said Gailor. "In fact, you're aware the mayor graduated with a bachelor's degree from Trinity College. … He would read speeches, correct? … He would edit documents that you would give him, right? ''
Hennessy, who was with Perez for eight years at city hall, said the mayor can read.
And while he didn't say the mayor has dyslexia, as current chief of staff Susan McMullen testified Thursday, Hennessy said he's seen Perez try to read documents from the bottom up, and that he would take a very long time to read even a single page.
In any case, Hennessy agreed with Gailor that important e-mails were given directly to Perez.
"So if you had an e-mail with the information about a $100,000 payment to somebody to get off a city parcel, you'd want him to see that, right?" said Gailor.
"If I had seen it, I would have shown it to him,'' said Hennessy.
Developer Joseph Citino testified earlier in the trial that the mayor told him after viewing his construction plans that he had to "take care'' of Giles or there would be no deal. He testified that Giles boasted of having the mayor's support and said he could "make or break'' Citino's plans to put up a condo and shopping complex at 1143 and 1161 Main St.
Citino's March 5, 2007, e-mail to the mayor cites the $100,000 payment as one of the burdens jeopardizing his project. The prosecution produced phone records showing a flurry of calls from the mayor to Citino on the day the e-mail was sent and for several days after. The developer testified that in a follow-up phone conversation, the mayor told Citino he shouldn't have included the Giles reference and said it could look bad if the e-mail ended up in the wrong hands.
Hennessy testified he was present at meetings with Citino, the mayor and others in the spring and summer of 2006 and never heard Perez tell Citino to "take care'' of Giles.
Hennessy, under questioning from defense lawyer Hubert Santos, said the only condition relating to Giles was that he be allowed to continue to park cars at the lot at 1143 Main St. while Citino's project proceeded.