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Hearing Seeks Removal of Police Commissioners

East Haven Attorney Frank J. Kolb, who serves as the town's labor attorney, has sent a letter to three commissioners notifying them he is seeking their removal from the board for "just cause."

UPDATE at 2 p.m.

It appears that it will continue to remain unclear under what authority — and under who's direction, if any, at Town Hall — East Haven attorney Frank Kolb has taken action seeking the removal of Police Commission Chairman Joseph Civtello, Vice-Chairman Carl Perez and commissioner Frank Piergrossi for "just cause."

East Haven Patch has received a written statement from Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr in response to our questions and request for comment regarding the upcoming just cause hearing.

The following is Mayor Maturo's response in full:

"Since this matter is in the hands of counsel for the Town of East Haven, it would be imprudent for me to comment extensively. However, I would like to assure our residents that the Town is working with all of the proper officials and agencies to ensure that this issue is handled properly and professionally in the best interests of our community.”

UPDATE at 11:30 a.m.

East Haven Patch has also confirmed Ed Foley of East Haven Politics' earlier report that the three commissioners who are the subject of the removal hearing are seeking a court order to block next week's scheduled hearing from taking place.

UPDATE at 11:15 a.m.

A short time ago East Haven Patch called the Mayor's Office seeking comment for this story. However, we were told the mayor was stepping out the door at that time to attend a meeting away from Town Hall.

Additionally, an email sent by East Haven Patch following up on that phone call was not immediately returned.

UPDATE at 9:45 a.m.

Attorny Kolb responded to East Haven Patch's request for comment on this story with the following written statement. It appear below in full:

"Because this matter is in the nature of pending litigation l will not make a specific comment except to say that the citizens of the town of East Haven are entitled to have members of boards discharge their duties in the best interests of the town according to law and for those appointed not to pursue their individual or politically motivated agendas to the detriment of the citizens of the Town of East Haven."

UPDATE at 8:30 a.m.

Ed Foley reports this morning on his blog East Haven Politics that three police commissioners who are the subject of the removal hearing will ask for court injunction to stop it from taking place.

In his post "Police Commissioners Removal" he writes:

"My sources are telling me the Capone appointees to the Board of Police Commissioners are going to be asking a judge for an injunction to stop the removal hearing from going forward on Tuesday, the 17th."

In addition, Foley reported yesterday that attorney Kolb's letter has been forwarded to the U.S. Justice Department.

In his post "Mayor Wants To Remove Police Commissioners," Foley states:

"One of the Commissioners has informed me the letter has been forwarded to the US Department of Justice since the three Commissioners feel this is an act of retaliation for their stance taken over Gallo and the ongoing DOJ investigation."

ORIGINAL STORY (Thursday at 5:58 a.m.)

East Haven Attorney who was as the town's labor lawyer by , has sent a letter to three Board of Police Commission members notifying them a hearing will be held to determine whether or not they should be removed from the board "for just cause."

The letter, which is dated April 4 and on the letter head of was sent to Police Commission Chairman Joseph Civtello, Vice-Chairman Carl Perez and commissioner Frank Piergrossi. Perez and Civitello are Democrats, while Piergrossi is unaffiliated.

All three men were members of the commission during the with former Police Chief Leonard Gallo in the wake of the f into alleged civil rights abuses by East Haven Police officers.

That investigation led to the for alleged violation of the civil rights of latino residents and others, as well as a "" critical of Gallo and some officers within the EHPD from the U.S. Justice Department.

The other two , who Kolb is not seeking removal, are both Republican appointments by Mayor Maturo: Lou Crisci and Jose Velasquez.

Crisici is also the former Republican Town Committee Chairman and Velasquez was also to serve on his East Haven Police Department

Kolb's letter is posted in the gallery that accompanies this article.

Public Hearing

In his letter, Kolb — as the for former Police Chief — states that a hearing will be take place on April 17, in the in the Mario Giamo Conference Room at , beginning at 7 p.m.

"At that time and date you shall have an opportunity to be heard in your own defense either personally or by counsel," Kolb states in his letter.

The hearing, which will be open to the public, will be presided over by an "impartial hearing officer," of North Haven.

It is unclear at this time in what capacity — and at who's, if anyone's, request at East Haven Town Hall — Kolb is taking this action against the three police commissioners.

East Haven Patch has placed an early morning call to the attorney's office, which has not yet been returned.

'The Issues'

Kolb then itemizes "the issues I intend to pursue leading to your dismissal" from the commission. They are as follows:

  1. Ultra vires acts in forming an consisting of Former Police Commissioners Fred Brow and James Krebs
  2. Ultra vires activities in and continuing to use of Attorney for the Board without first making a request of Joseph Zullo, Town Attorney, for conflict-free counsel,
  3. Your unwillingness to work with or communicate with any counsel for the Town.
  4. Generally acting in a manner detrimental to the Police Department.
  5. Generally not fulfilling the duties of your appointed position.
  6. Acting in a manner so as to interfere with the administration of justice.
  7. Making rules and regulations in inconsistent with Chapter IV, Section 7 (A) of the .

Kolb then states that if any of the three commissioners do not attend the hearing, it will be held "in abesentia," or in their absence.

East Haven Patch will continue to update this story as it develops and more information becomes available.

[Editor's Note: Due to an error in the town-generated list of board & commission members (http://patch.com/N-dvsx), Mr. Crisci was incorrectly identified as police commission chairman. Mr. Civitello is, in fact, currently serving as chair.)

Richard Poulton April 16, 2012 at 11:51 AM
CV, Spaulding was put on paid leave last summer over the Town Fair Tire incident. The others, along with Spaulding, were placed on administrative leave in January after being arrested by Feds.
Julie Weisberg April 16, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Everyone: Tuesday's hearing has been postponed until May 1, according to press release from the Mayor's Office this morning  Story to follow later. Just FYI. 
CitizenVoice April 16, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Sure hope they get a bigger room. Much bigger.
CitizenVoice April 16, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Thanks Rich. I knew I didn't have it totally straight. Seemed like something bad was happening every day. Kind of reminds me of Phoenix, where I spend a lot of time (my daughter lives there). Between Brewer, their crazy governor, and that no-words-to-describe Sheriff Arpaio, and let's throw in Stephen Segal, the puppy killer, and you have a way bigger version of the clown show. We should consider ourselves lucky.
Norm Brody April 16, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Disclaimer: I too have a daughter in Phoenix & spend a lot of time out there as many of you know, but I am not "CitizenVoice". I do share his perspective though.

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