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Feds form team to fight corruption in Connecticut

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NEW HAVEN – The State of Connecticut has seen its share of corrupt public officials over the years, from former  governors, to city mayors and officials. Now, the feds are stepping up efforts to crackdown on corrupt behavior.

Federal law enforcement officers, struck by what they called the persistent criminal behavior of government officials in Connecticut, said Wednesday that they have created a multi-agency, federal task force to fight public corruption in the state.

“Connecticut’s unfortunate recent history with corruption is well known,” said Deidre Daly, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut.

Several other public officials also have gone to prison in federal corruption cases in the past two decades, including former state Treasurer Paul Silvester and former Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim.   In 2004, then Governor John Rowland resigned, and eventually served  time, convicted for corruption.  He now awaits sentencing in his second corruption scandal.

West Haven’s Housing Authority Director now awaits sentencing for taking $1.5 million in bribes in exchange for business.

“Yet, corruption persists at a number of levels, so the time was opportune for us to put together a top notch team of people who are prioritizing corruption,” said Daly,

The task force consists of investigators from the FBI, IRS and the Inspector General Offices of the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development. It will be housed in the FBI’s Meriden offices and directed by the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The Task Force also will investigate corruption that threatens public resources, the electoral process, and fair economic opportunities for citizens and businesses. In addition, the Task Force is charged with uncovering corruption within both public and private institutions that receive and misuse taxpayer dollars.

“Our democracy depends on healthy, efficient and ethical government. Without it we all foot this bill for corrupt officials through higher taxes,” said Patricia Ferrick, the FBI Special Agent in-charge for Connecticut.

The task force has been at work for several months and has several investigations on-going, including the recent arrest of the former finance director of the town of Plymouth, who is alleged to have embezzled more than $800,000 from the town.

The task force has a special corruption tip hotline that will be answered around the clock, Daly said.

The number is 1-800-CALL-FBI. To succeed, she said, the task force needs the cooperation of the public and government employees who see improper behavior. Callers can remain anonymous if they chose, she added.

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