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Friday, January 30, 2004

Westport Attorney Files Appeal on Behalf of Former Waterbury Mayor

The Westport attorney for convicted former Waterbury Mayor Philip Giordano filed an appeal today, arguing that the federal government overstepped its bounds when it prosecuted him on child sex charges.

Giordano was convicted last year of violating the civil rights of two young girls by sexually abusing them. He was also convicted of using a cellular phone to set up the sex.

The AP reported that in the appeal filed with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, Attorney Andrew Bowman made several arguments that the conviction should be overturned.

One was that federal agents were not authorized to listen to and record conversations between Giordano and a prostitute who arranged the meetings with the girls.

FBI agents were investigating municipal corruption in Waterbury, and Bowman argues that calls unrelated to that case were beyond the scope of the warrant.

He also argues that federal prosecutors did not have jurisdiction to bring the phone charges. Federal law prohibits the use of interstate commerce devices - such as postal service or state-to-state phone calls - to entice minors into sex.

Because Giordano’s calls were made within Connecticut, Bowman argued, they did not meet the standard for interstate communication. Prosecutors maintain that the cellular signal left Connecticut, triggering federal jurisdiction.

Bowman also argues that prosecutors never proved that Giordano used his position as mayor to entice the girls into sex, a necessary component of the civil rights charges.

In his brief, he said the prostitute brought her daughter and niece to the mayor for money.

“That he was mayor at the time, was simply not the reason why sexual activity between (the girls) and Giordano allegedly took place,” Bowman writes in his brief.

At the trial court level, Judge Alan Nevas, a Westport resident, rejected Bowman’s claims.

Also at issue is whether the two girls, who were 8 and 10 at the time of the crime, should have had to testify in open court. Nevas allowed them to testify by closed-circuit television.

Defendants have a constitutional right to confront witnesses against them. Prosecutors argued that the girls were too afraid and traumatized to face Giordano in court.

Giordano, 40, was sentenced to 37 years in federal prison. He also faces state charges stemming from the same set of facts. The municipal corruption case remains open.


Posted 01/30/04 at 05:33 PM  Permalink


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