In case you missed it, Jon Lender of the Courant, wrote an update to the long sad tale that starts the CRRA cesspool of corruption. He writes:
For every fact revealed in a political scandal, several others remain hidden. The big revelations lead to firings or indictments and headlines. Other rumored circumstances can’t be confirmed or reported as news before the scandal passes, the guilty are punished (or not) and life returns to normal.
But every once in a while, long after the trouble has blown over, some old and tantalizing secret comes to light when old allies turn against each other. This can be helpful in understanding the relationships among powerful people in government and business who later emerged as scandal figures.
That’s what’s happening now, six years later. Robert Wright, the former president of the state’s trash authority, is suing members of the prominent New Britain-area Tomasso family, claiming they reneged on a secret deal to hire him as head of one of their companies in 2002.
Remember that ties in politics go long ways when you think about the CRRA. So it’s important to pay attention to how things were done, to get a handle on how things continue to be done.
Wright was never accused of any criminal activity. But back in April 2002, his job as the $153,000-a-year head of the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority was in jeopardy because of a public uproar over the CRRA’s loss of $220 million (much of which was later recovered) in its deal with the soon-to-collapse Enron.
The uproar had claimed its first victim weeks earlier — Ellef, who, in addition to serving as Rowland’s staff chief, was chairman of the CRRA’s governing board. He was forced to quit both posts.
It was rumored that Wright had lined up a safe landing place with a Tomasso company. But no one would confirm that, and when he quit the CRRA under pressure in late April 2002, all anyone would say was that Wright had found another job.
The rumor seemed untrue when Wright didn’t go to work for the Tomassos, and instead found a job with Klewin Building Co. of Norwich — a state contractor that two years later would rile prosecutors and legislators by giving the disgraced Rowland a lucrative consulting job after he quit as governor in mid-2004.
But now, after all these years, it turns out that the rumor was true. It’s all in Wright’s pending lawsuit against the Tomassos, filed in federal court in 2007 after first being lodged in state court.
Wright, with an introduction from Ellef, obtained a written offer in March 2002 to become president of the Tomassos’ Tenergy water technology company in New Britain, documents show. “Your base salary will be $165,000 annually,” Tenergy executive Michael Tomasso wrote to Wright on March 15, 2002.
But later, documents show, the Tomassos withdrew the offer by letter April 29, 2002, after the CRRA-Enron mess was deepened by calls for a criminal investigation of the CRRA that materialized by the end of the month.
The Tomassos helped Wright get the job with Klewin, though, and at least one of them talked of funding part of his pay at that firm under a contemplated joint venture that did not happen, documents show.
Ellef, was chief of staff to Rowland and head of CRRA when this all went down. And the CRRA is still offering plenty of murky news. This November 2007 reminds us of Lender’s opening premise a few months later.
It’s the second such silence ruling against the CRRA in the last year. The order covers CRRA officials and members of the board, which is comprised of mayors and first selectmen from throughout the state, including Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti.
Lauretti, in a brief interview Thursday afternoon, declined comment on the scope of Eveleigh’s order, other than to predict that it will be appealed by the CRRA.
“I don’t understand the rationale used for the gag order, nor do I appreciate or understand its need,” Lauretti said. About four years ago, the upstate towns of New Hartford and Barkhamsted sued the CRRA over the Enron deal. In February 2006, the 68 remaining Mid-Connecticut Project towns joined in the litigation, which reached trial a year ago. On June 19, Eveleigh ordered CRRA to pay those towns $35.8 million. Less than 10 days later, the CRRA appealed the ruling.
The case involves repercussions from the scandal surrounding Enron, which declared bankruptcy within weeks of the December 2000 deal with the quasi-public CRRA.
Lauretti has his own issues to deal with lately (from the Courant):
A Fairfield County developer has been indicted on bribery and a half-dozen other offenses for providing cash and other gifts — including a home addition — to eight-term Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, people familiar with the indictment and the investigation that preceded it said Monday.
In addition to bribery of a public official, James Botti, 45, of Shelton was charged with lying to the Internal Revenue Service, mail fraud and financial crimes associated with attempts to conceal large cash payments.
Lauretti, a rising star in state Republican politics, was not identified by name in the indictment and was not charged. In the indictment, he is identified as “Public Official #1″ and described as “Botti’s co-conspiractor.”
But people familiar with the case said Lauretti is Public Official #1. Lauretti filed an application to build an addition on his house in 2002, the year Botti is accused of paying for the work.
And why is this so interesting? Lauretti is on the board of CRRA. Appointed in 2002. The story of CRRA has never been fully told. And when people in Norwalk start advocating on its behalf, knowing the long history of corruption, the ties to criminal organizations, it really makes you wonder.
source: Courant, Long After Scandal, Secrets Emerge, Jon Lender, December 7,