The Bridgeport (CT) police chief and the city’s acting personnel director were arrested on Thursday.
According to the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Bridgeport Police Chief Armando Perez, 64, and David Dunn, 72, are accused of defrauding the city “by rigging the 2018 police chief examination.”
Chief Perez earned $461,061 in 2019 according to the Times Union.
Audrey Strauss, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said the exam, which is mandated by the city’s charter, was allegedly rigged to ensure Perez would be selected for the position of police chief.
News 3 report that Perez and Dunn were also charged with making false statements to federal agents during the course of the investigation.
Perez and Dunn were each charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Each wire fraud count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. If convicted of wire fraud and lying to FBI agents, both men could face a maximum of more than 40 years in prison.
Perez is also charged with two counts of false statement to federal investigators, while Dunn is charged with one count of false statements to federal investigators. Each count carries a maximum of five years in prison.
They are both expected to appear in court on Thursday afternoon.
Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said “As alleged, Chief Perez and Personnel Director Dunn schemed to rig the purportedly impartial and objective search for a permanent police chief to ensure the position was awarded to Perez, and then repeatedly lied to federal agents in order to conceal their conduct. Bridgeport’s citizens and police officers deserve leaders with integrity who are committed to enforcing, not breaking, the law, and we thank the FBI for their partnership in investigating and uncovering the scheme alleged.”
The charges stem from a complaint during the search for a new police chief in 2018.
The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York’s office said Perez was serving as the acting chief at the time, and allegedly conspired with Dunn to “deceive the city by secretly rigging the supposedly independent search process for a new BPD chief to ensure that Perez was ranked as one of the top three candidates and could therefore be awarded a five-year contract to serve as the BPD chief.”
Patch.com lists a summary of allegations from the criminal complaint:
- Dunn obtained confidential exam questions developed by an outside consultant and emailed the material to Perez. Dunn also had the consultant tailor the exam scoring criteria to boost Perez’s favorability.
- The FBI obtained copies of emails that showed Dunn did not email questions for an oral exam to any candidate except Perez, according to the complaint.
- Dunn directed the consultant to modify the scoring system to benefit Perez, according to the complaint. The consultant modified the point system to award more points for years in law enforcement, eliminated a penalty for not residing in Bridgeport (Perez lives in Trumbull) and eliminated a penalty for not having a college degree. Perez was the only applicant not to have a bachelor’s degree.
- Perez had two city police officers write his written exam.
- One of the officers was placed on administrative leave before he could complete draft answers to the oral exam questions. The officer recorded a conversation with Perez where he offered to sneak into the Bridgeport Police Department headquarters and retrieve a file that would prepare Perez for the oral exam. The officer, at the direction of the FBI, recorded another conversation with Perez where Perez gave him tips on how to sneak into headquarters so he wouldn’t be noticed.
- One of the panelists in an interview portion of the search told FBI investigators that Dunn called him at home and stated that Mayor Joe Ganim wanted Perez to be in the top three of the search process, according to the complaint.
Sixteen people applied for the police chief job at the time.
Perez was offered a five-year contract with a payout of more than $300,000 for accrued leave (which boosted his 2019 salary) and an annual salary of around $145,000.
Perez was a member of the Bridgeport Police Department for more than 35 years and was appointed acting chief in 2016.
In 2017, The chief ordered that the word “Police” be removed from the back of the blue windbreaker-style jackets that police officers wear and an officer was subsequently suspended for violating the order.
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