Jessica Hill / AP
Federal authorities arrested the Chief of Police and Bridgeport Chief of Staff Conn. On suspicion of fraud, claiming that the two rigged the process that led to the hiring of the boss in 2018.
The FBI and the Department of Justice said in a statement that the Chief of Police, Armando Perez, and the Director of Personnel in Charge, David Dunn, are accused of manipulating the police chief’s examination to ensure that Perez would be been a finalist for the position and making false statements to federal agents in the course of their investigations.
“As allegedly, Chief Perez and Director of Personnel Dunn planned to rig the supposedly impartial and objective search for a permanent police chief to ensure the position was assigned to Perez, and then repeatedly lied to federal agents to conceal their conduct. “Acting US attorney Audrey Strauss said.
Perez and Dunn’s attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday night, nor did the Bridgeport Police Department.
According to the criminal complaint, the city of Bridgeport, Connecticut’s largest, decided to hold the post of permanent police chief in early 2018.
The city bylaws require an “open and competitive examination” to be held, with the top three scoring candidates passing to the mayor’s desk for selection. At the time, Perez was serving as interim police chief and Dunn was overseeing the examination process in his role as director of personnel.
The complaint says Dunn hired an outside consultant to assist with exam development and administration and worked with Perez to manipulate that process “in multiple ways.”
Specifically, Dunn is said to have stolen confidential exam questions and related information developed by the consultant and provided those materials to Perez, and asked the consultant to adjust the exam scoring criteria to favor Perez. He also allegedly attempted to influence a panel member tasked with ranking candidates in the final stage of the exam, in an attempt to make sure Perez was in the top three.
Perez is accused of enlisting two police officers to “secretly draft and write” his written exam.
“As a result of the plan, the City was tricked into placing Perez in the top three candidates, which made him eligible for the position of chief of permanent police,” officials said.
The mayor eventually offered the position to Perez, who entered into a five-year contract whose terms included a payment of over $ 300,000 for the accrued vacation.
Authorities also said Perez and Dunn were interviewed voluntarily as part of the FBI investigation, and each lied to agents during that trial. For example, they said, Perez provided false and misleading information about the assistance he received, including “his requests for a BPD officer to sneak into headquarters to retrieve stolen confidential information provided by Dunn.”
Perez and Dunn are both charged with a count of computer fraud and a conspiracy count to commit computer fraud, charges that each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Perez is also charged with two counts of misrepresentation to federal investigators and Dunn is charged with one.
“Today’s arrest of city officials, including a high-ranking and longtime law enforcement official, is a stark reminder that a public official’s betrayal of public trust and community members it is not only immoral but often illegal, “the FBI special agent said. Upload David Sundberg.
In a video message On Thursday, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim said Perez had resigned and Assistant Chief Rebeca Garcia will take over the department as interim head.
Ganim said his administration learned Thursday morning “in real time” that the two city officials had transformed into the US attorney’s office.
“Certainly there is a struggle for some of the answers about what happened, disappointment, uncertainty,” Ganim said. “But I can tell you this: the members of this administration remain committed to you, as residents of this city … committed to public safety as a top priority and we will keep you informed as we move forward on this.”