Ex-FBI agents in a war of words over Ganim campaign

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HARTFORD — Two former FBI agents are feuding over Democrat Joe Ganim's campaign for Bridgeport mayor and the role one of them played in the corruption probe that sent Ganim to prison.

Michael Wolf was special agent in charge of Connecticut during the Ganim investigation more than a decade ago. He wrote a letter published Monday in the Connecticut Post that opposed Ganim's campaign.

"The possibility that the city may revert to harmful practices of old is most troubling. As a serial bank robber, convicted and sentenced for crimes would never be employed by the financial institution he robbed, a mayor who swindled a city he was entrusted to govern, should not be given the opportunity to do it again," the letter said.

Wolf also wrote that former FBI agent Edward Adams was not the lead investigator in the Ganim case as reported in news stories.

Adams supports Ganim's campaign, saying he deserves a second chance. He responded to Wolf's letter with a statement saying he did play a leading role in the probe that sent Ganim to prison for seven years for corruption during his previous stint as mayor.

Ganim said he had no comment on the letter, but his primary challenger in next week’s mayoral election did chime in.

“I'm all about second chances even though I lost my business because of Joe Ganim's pay-to-play schemes,” said Mary-Jane Foster.

Foster said her company had been developing what is now the Webster Bank Arena, until one day they were out with no explanation.

“We learned through the trial transcripts that Ganim took a $400,000 bribe and went with somebody else,” said Foster, who was a founder of the Bridgeport Bluefish, the minor-league baseball team she estimates has added about $40 million to the city’s economy.

Thyursday afternoon, Foster held a press conference on the East End plot of land where businesses are finally popping up after 20 years of dormancy. Ganim had forced hundreds of homeowners and businesses out through eminent domain.

Foster says the displaced homeowners were forced to pay “more and they were getting less. Some of them never owned a home again.”

One long-time business owner on Bridgeport’s east side said he's got no problem with Ganim going back to work, but did not support him becoming mayor again. The store owner on East Main Street thinks he should do work for non-profits first.

“Prove what he can do and then in the future the people will be, I personally will be, in a better position to vote for him,” said Angel Reyes, who owns Check Cashing & More.

State Sen. Ed Gomes, a Bridgeport resident for 71 years and a champion of the new law that gives a second chance to former criminals, is even against Ganim.

“Why should the people in the City the Bridgeport put a man back in the same job when he offended their trust?” queried Gomes.

Despite all the negativity, the fact is, Ganim did win the September Democratic primary over incumbent Bill Finch, who has now thrown his support behind Foster, a former adversary.

“Collectively, Mayor Finch and I had about 54 percent of that vote and we're going to hold on to those votes,” said Foster. “I'm going to take votes away from Joe now that other people know that I can win.”

Foster calls this election perhaps the most unusual and certainly most pivotal in Bridgeport history.