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Thomson Reuters has named Attorney Edward Gavin as a 2021 Connecticut  Super Lawyer for the 15th straight year. Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. This selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

Inclusion in the Super Lawyers is limited to no more than 5% of the attorneys in any given state.

Martindale-Hubbell®. has announced that Attorney Edward J. Gavin has Achieved the AV Preeminent® Rating – the Highest Possible Rating from Martindale-Hubbell® for the 13th Consecutive year.

BRIDGEPORT, CT August , 2021 –

Martindale-Hubbell®. has announced that Attorney Edward J. Gavin has Achieved the AV Preeminent® Rating – the Highest Possible Rating from Martindale-Hubbell® for the 13th Consecutive year. The Martindale-Hubbell® AV Preeminent® rating is the highest possible rating for an attorney for both ethical standards and legal ability. This rating represents the pinnacle of professional excellence. It is achieved only after an attorney has been reviewed and recommended by their peers – members of the bar and the judiciary.

Congratulations go to Edward J. Gavin who has achieved the AV Preeminent® Rating from Martindale-Hubbell®.

Edward J. Gavin commented on the announcement as follows: “The Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Rating is a credential highly valued and sought after in the legal world. I am thankful to my peers who nominated me for this distinction, and proud to have earned this, the highest possible Martindale-Hubbell rating.”






Will Bridgeport require new cops stay for a specific number of years?   June 6, 2021 | 

Two prominent Bridgeport labor attorneys – Thomas Bucci and Edward Gavin – in separate interviews offered their own thoughts on the concept.  Gavin said he believes Garcia’s approach would be enforceable, .


Attorney Edward Gavin is honored to be chosen to lecture to the Hartford Bar Association Criminal Law Committee on “WAR STORIES”–With Attorney Gavin’s good friend William “Willie” Dow,Esq.  Tales from the Criminal Law Trenches. Thursday, December 5th 5:30 pm @ The Hartford Club.






Thomson Reuters has named Attorney Edward Gavin as a 2021 New England Super Lawyer for the 8th straight year. Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. This selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

New England Super Lawyers recognizes the Top Lawyers in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.   

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OCTOBER, 2019–Attorney Edward Gavin attends the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL‘s) 2019 Fall Seminar on The Gris-Gris of Voir Dire—New Orleans, Louisiana

Attorney Gavin attended a comprehensive seminar on the advanced principals of effective Voir dire, the mot effective approaches and techniques needed to select juries.


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Nice to be quoted in the New York Times today about the passing of Judge Ellen Bree Burns. A great Judge.

Ellen Bree Burns, Barrier-Breaking Connecticut Judge, Dies at 95

Ellen Bree Burns, a prominent judge who was the first woman to serve on Connecticut’s major trial court and the first woman to preside in a federal court in the state, died on Monday in New Haven. She was 95 and had continued on the bench until she was 91.

President Jimmy Carter nominated Judge Burns to the federal bench in 1978.

Ellen Bree was born in New Haven on Dec. 13, 1923, to Vincent and Mildred Bree, and grew up in nearby Hamden, Conn. Her father worked in the insurance industry, and her mother was a homemaker.

She graduated summa cum laude from Albertus Magnus College in New Haven in 1944 and, in 1947, from Yale University Law School, where she had been one of a handful of female students.

In 1976, Gov. Ella T. Grasso, the first woman to be elected governor in her own right in the United States, appointed Judge Burns to the Superior Court, the state’s primary criminal and civil trial court. She was the first woman to sit on that court. Today, a third of the more than 170 state judges in Connecticut are women, as are four of the 14 judges on the federal bench there, according to the courts’ websites.

On the federal bench, Judge Burns was the chief judge in the state from 1988 through 1992.While she could be stern with defendants like Mr. Frankel, Judge Burns could also mete out measures of kindness and hope in sentencing wrongdoers,

Edward J. Gavin, a lawyer who had represented clients before her, told The Connecticut Post.
“For them it was like standing before your grandmother and being told you’re not a bad person, you did something wrong, you have to be punished and you will get over it,” he said. “Sometimes I’d look over at my client and see them nodding in agreement.”

By Joseph P. Fried
The New York Times
June 4, 2019


Union fights firing of Tiago over scrap metal


FEBRUARY 7, 2019–Fairfield teacher not guilty of exposing himself

BRIDGEPORT — A popular Fairfield high school teacher was found not guilty Monday of twice exposing himself to a female student.

More than a dozen supporters, many of them Fairfield teachers, cheered in the courtroom as the jury of five men and one woman in less than an hour of deliberations found Jeff Iwanicki not guilty of two counts of risk of injury to a child, public indecency and second-degree breach of peace.

“There were no facts to prove that he did it,” said juror Andrew Mickool, of Trumbull. “No evidence beyond a reasonable doubt and that’s just the way it was.”

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DECEMBER, 2018–Businessman accused of sex charges agrees to set aside $25 million for lawsuits

A Glastonbury businessman facing criminal charges in an alleged Danbury sex trafficking case agreed Tuesday to turn over $25 million in assets to be held in trust pending the outcome of a civil case in Bridgeport.

Bruce Bemer agreed to the prejudgment settlement following a conference before Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis. A prejudgment is made in cases where a large civil verdict or settlement in a civil case is expected.

Bemer made the agreement the day before his purported victims were expected to take the stand.



Attorney Edward Gavin obtains 1 year sentence for client charged in Felony Evading case involving death of a pedestrian in Derby Superior Court. A very difficult case with an excellent result. Attorney Gavin vigorously represented his client for in excess of two years to obtain this favorable result.


NOVEMBER 2018–Attorney Edward Gavin attends the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL‘s) 2018 Fall Meeting & Seminar on Decoding & Litigating Mental Health Issues–NOVEMBER ,2018


  1. Cross of an Expert on Competency – Iris Eytan (Denver, CO)

  2. Working with Experts on NGRI & Competency Evaluations – Dr. Clarence Watson (Bala Cynwyd, PA)

  3. Preparing for Sentencing, at the Beginning, Using Effective Storytelling – Jennifer Sellitti (Trenton, NJ)

  4. Language Impairments – Prof. Michele LaVigne (Madison, WI)

  5. Voir Dire with Mental Health Defenses – Denise de La Rue (Atlanta, GA)

  6. Direct Examination of Clients with Mental Illness & Cognitive Impairment – Aaron Nelson (Hudson, WI)

  7. Preparing & Litigating NGI Cases – Jennifer Friedman (Los Angeles, CA)

  8. Representing Clients with Autism – Mark Mahoney (Buffalo, NY)

  9. Veterans Mental Health Issues – James Smith (Orlando, FL)

  10. Mental Health and Elderly Clients – Vincent Aprile (Louisville, KY)

  11. Developmental Threats to Competency to Stand Trial Among Young and Emerging Adult Defendants – Dr. Ivan Kruh (Great Barrington, MA)

  12. Ethically Representing Clients with Mental Health Issues – Natasha Silas (Atlanta, GA)

  13. Working with Mitigation Specialists – Danalynn Recer (Houston, TX)

  14. Alternatives to Incarceration with Mental Health Clients – Thomas Reed (Milwaukee, WI)



OCTOBER, 2018  BRIDGEPORT, CONNECTICUT –Client charged with a 20 year SEXUAL ASSAULT felony–walked out today with probation and a minor misdemeanor–NO INCARCERATION–NO SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION-EXCELLENT RESULT


SEPTEMBER, 2018–Two Civil cases settled back to back this week. Careless driver in a parking lot and a careless driver on I-95. You mess with our clients and be prepared to pay $$$$$. For all your personal injury needs. We don’t need buses and billboards to attract clients–Our results speak for themselves. ED GAVIN 203-347-7050


AUGUST 31, 2018 –Murder charge posthumously dismissed against Stamford man who killed his wife

Updated 8:25 pm EDT, Friday, August 31, 2018

STAMFORD — Six weeks to the day after Allen Claxton hanged himself in the attic of his Westover home, a murder charge lodged against him for killing his wife was dismissed by a Stamford judge.

Freed on $1.5 million bond, Claxton, 75, killed himself on July 20, a day after he pleaded not guilty to murdering Eden Claxton, 74. Five weeks earlier he had slit her throat in the bedroom of the Hycliff Terrace home the two shared for nearly 20 years.

Standing before Judge Richard Comerford in a first-floor courtroom of the Stamford courthouse on Friday, Stamford State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo asked that the murder charge against Claxton be nolled. A half-second passed and Claxton’s attorney Edward Gavin asked that the charge be dismissed. “No objection,” Colangelo immediately told Comerford, who then acceded to the request.

“I’m personally heart broken that something like this would happen to two honest, good people that you would be happy to have as neighbors,” Gavin said after the hearing.

Gavin said that it is customary to dismiss such charges against a person who dies while accused, much like former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who had his murder conviction cleared last year after he hanged himself in prison.

Martindale-Hubbell®. has announced that Attorney Edward J. Gavin has Achieved the AV Preeminent® Rating – the Highest Possible Rating from Martindale-Hubbell® for the 10th Consecutive year.

BRIDGEPORT, CT August 16, 2018

Martindale-Hubbell®. has announced that Attorney Edward J. Gavin has Achieved the AV Preeminent® Rating – the Highest Possible Rating from Martindale-Hubbell® for the 10th Consecutive year. The Martindale-Hubbell® AV Preeminent® rating is the highest possible rating for an attorney for both ethical standards and legal ability. This rating represents the pinnacle of professional excellence. It is achieved only after an attorney has been reviewed and recommended by their peers – members of the bar and the judiciary.

Congratulations go to Edward J. Gavin who has achieved the AV Preeminent® Rating from Martindale-Hubbell®.

Edward J. Gavin commented on the announcement as follows: “The Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Rating is a credential highly valued and sought after in the legal world. I am thankful to my peers who nominated me for this distinction, and proud to have earned this, the highest possible Martindale-Hubbell rating.”


Another Day, Another hearing in support of a wrongfully accused teacher.

JULY, 2018—Plainville, Connecticut  –Protective order/ Restraining order Application denied–CASE DISMISSED!! Love and Support our Teachers ED GAVIN




Great result in Federal Court today. Client facing 27-33 months on Federal fraud charges. Client sentenced to a year and a day. Will be home in 9 months. Want results? Law Offices of Edward J. Gavin 203-347-7050. State and Federal Court. We just win.


Went to New Britain to represent a great teacher falsely accused of inappropriate conduct. Walked out with charges dismissed..As it should be. Have a great weekend ED GAVIN





Charges dismissed in fentanyl distribution case

Updated 5:53 pm EDT, Friday, April 27, 2018

BRIDGEPORT – Charges against a Rhode Island woman accused of ferrying more than 12 pounds of fentanyl through Connecticut were dismissed Friday.

Superior Court Judge Robert Devlin dismissed the two counts of possession of narcotics with intent to sell against 21-year-old Arianna Spencer after State’s Attorney John Smriga told the judge prosecutors could not prove the case against her.

“The state could not sustain its burden of proof in the case, there was noevidence she was anything other than a passenger in the car,” Smriga told the judge, who then granted a motion to dismiss the case from Spencer’s lawyer, Edward Gavin.

“She’s has now been vindicated in Connecticut and Rhode Island and is looking forward to getting on with her life,” Gavin said as he left the Fairfield County Courthouse with Spencer. “We successfully maintained that Miss Spencer did not possess the contraband and we thank the state’s attorney for his time and effort in reaching this disposition.”

On Sept. 30, a state trooper pulled over a 2017 Chevrolet Cruz near exit 21 on Interstate 95 northbound, after allegedly spotting it driving over 70 miles per hour. After a police dog indicated there was something in the trunk, the driver consented to allow police to search it, police said.

Inside the trunk, state police said, they found the 12.12 pounds of fentanyl, worth about $6 million. The synthetic opioid is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine, according to law enforcement officials, and has resulted in numerous overdose deaths.

The two occupants of the car, 19-year-old Isaiah Roman of Providence, R.I. and Spencer of Cranston, R.I., were both charged.


Another outstanding result for a Teacher today. Reckless allegation made. Retained us. Criminal Case Closed. DCF Case–UNSUBSTANTIATED. Love our Teachers. We are always here to serve and protect our educators.




Ed Gavin, a Bridgeport defense lawyer who has represented other high-profile clients, said he is concerned about the new obstacles that are likely to interfere with the Judiciary.

“I am embarrassed to be a citizen of Connecticut after the way Andrew was treated,” Gavin said Wednesday. “Do jurists have to get the green light from the legislature to make the tough calls they are trained to make? Is this a sign that judges have to make politically correct decisions, satisfying the agenda of whatever party has the majority, to get reappointed? A dark day for the people of Connecticut.”


MARCH, 2018 A textbook case of reality being different than a baseless allegation.

Fairfield teacher heads to trial

FAIRFIELD – A popular Fairfield Warde High School teacher, accused of twice exposing himself to a female student, is going to trial. Following a brief hearing Friday, Superior Court Judge Maureen Dennis scheduled a tentative trial date of May 30 for Jeffrey Iwanicki.

“We look forward to our day in court when we will vigorously defend against these allegations,” Iwanicki’s lawyer, Edward Gavin, said as t hey left the Golden Hill Street courthouse.

Iwanicki, 45, is charged with two counts of impairing the morals of a minor, two counts of public indecency and two counts of breach of peace.

Iwanicki, who has taught at the high school five years and before that at Fairfield Woods Middle School, was arrested after the then 15-year-old girl told school officials Iwanicki had twice exposed himself to her in his classroom in the high school in November and December 2016.



January, 2018  A good story on our recent victory for a wrongly accused teacher


An independent arbitrator says it’s unlikely that a Fairfield teacher exposed himself to a teenage student and recommends that he keep his job.

Jeff Iwanicki, a teacher at Fairfield Warde High School, faces several felony charges. He’s been on paid leave for almost a year after a 15-year-old student accused him of exposing himself to her twice in the classroom, but the arbitrator’s report says the accuser admitted she wasn’t sure what she had actually seen. 

In one case, several other students were said to be nearby, but two of those students testified that they didn’t see the alleged incident happen. Furthermore, the arbitrator says Fairfield police made no attempt to locate another key witness.

“The police investigation was insufficient, lacking in any effort to even ascertain all the witnesses, nor interview them,” the report reads.

“This was a situation where the allegation was so strong that…many in the administration and also at the police department bought the story hook, line and sinker,” says Ed Gavin, Iwanicki’s lawyer.

According to the arbitrator, the accuser “admitted that she doubted herself, that she thought she was crazy, that she never saw Mr. Iwanicki unzip his pants or remove his penis.”

It’s up to the board of education whether to lift Iwanicki’s suspension, and he’s still facing the criminal charges. The board is not bound by the arbitrator’s recommendation.

The superintendent did not immediately respond to a News 12 Connecticut request for comment.

City ordered to rehire Fire Department’s secretary

BRIDGEPORT – The city has been ordered to hire back the Fire Department’s executive secretary – with back pay – after she was fired last year and replaced with a non-union employee.

“The management rights clause (of the collective bargain unit) does not give the city an unfettered right to eliminate a bargaining unit position and establish a new position outside of the bargaining unit to perform in essence the same duties,” said state Arbitrator Joseph Celentano, in ordering the city to rehire Mary Martinelli.

Edward Gavin, the lawyer for the Bridgeport City Supervisor’s Union, said the decision could cost the city $100,000.

“This was a tremendous victory for the Bridgeport City Supervisors Association and our member Mary Martinelli,” Gavin said. “The City does not have the right to violate those rights which were bargained for. It was a courageous decision by an experienced labor arbitrator. Hopefully this sends a message that we will zealously and successfully fight for our rights.”

 Martinelli was promoted on Nov. 6, 2015, from administrative assistant to then Mayor Bill Finch to the position of provisional executive secretary in the Fire Department following the death of the department’s prior executive secretary, according to the arbitrator’s report.

On March 14, 2016, Martinelli was laid off, “Due to a reorganization of the departmental activities,” under Mayor Joseph Ganim. However, on April 15, 2016, her layoff was rescinded following a complaint to the mayor by then Fire Chief Brian Rooney, the report states.

 The report continues that on May 23, 2016, Martinelli was terminated following the appointment of Richard Thode as the new fire chief. Thode subsequently reorganized the upper levels of the Fire Department, eliminating the position of executive secretary and replacing it with the position of assistant special project manager which was outside the collective bargaining agreement, the report states.

The union argued the city was obligated to negotiate the impact the Fire Department’s reorganization would have on union members.

The city claims it eliminated the position of executive secretary before Chief Thode handles his own calls, calendars and emails but needs a person to manage the smoke detection installation program and Facebook postings.

However, Celentano stated in his report that he compared the job description of the assistant special projects manager with that of the executive secretary position. “It is obvious that the job functions of the two positions are the same,” he stated.




NOVEMBER 26, 2017

Attorney Edward J. Gavin and the Bridgeport City Supervisor’s Association win a major arbitration involving Union members contractual rights. A BCSA member was terminated from her employment for no reason other than the City of Bridgeport wanted to reorganize one of their departments. The BCSA objected, filed a contractual grievance, and litigated the matter before a labor arbitrator. The matter was hotly contested with the Union advocating that the employer, City of Bridgeport, could not unilaterally remove a union employee and farm their work out to other Unions and unaffiliated employees.


In a courageous decision, the arbitrator ruled that the City did violate the terms of the collective bargaining agreement and that the employee be returned to her position WITH FULL BACK PAY FROM THE DATE OF HER LAYOFF UNTIL HER REINSTATEMENT !!!




In November , 2017 Attorney Edward Gavin attended the 2017  Defending Sex Crimes training seminar, organized by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) in Las Vegas, Nevada. This prestigious seminar was attended by leading Criminal Defense Lawyers from around the country. The seminar was limited to 100 attendees and was presented by outstanding experts from around the Country. Attorney Gavin represents clients in high profile sex cases around the State and is recognized for his expertise in defending these cases.

The following topics were presented to the attendees:

Defending sex trafficking allegations,

Defending cases involving alcohol and memory,

Updates on the technology of DNA race evidence and mixtures,

Cross Examining child witnesses,

Handling Forensic Forensic Examinations in the Courtroom,

Attacking Cellphone Forensic evidence while on trial

Empowering a Jury to say “Not Guilty” in a sexual assault case

Date Rape–Drugs, Alcohol, and Memory

Autism Disorder and On-line Sexual Offenses




Thank you to my Peers for selecting me as a NEW ENGLAND SUPER LAWYER FOR 2017. That makes it 10 years in a row (2007-2017). I feel Proud to be selected as a Top Lawyer in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. This selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

Fairfield police: Jennings Beach indecent exposure suspect charged

Updated 3:34 pm, Wednesday, October 25, 2017

FAIRFIELD -William Connelly ended up in Danbury Hospital after seeing a photograph in the newspaper of him allegedly exposing himself to teenage girls on Jennings Beach.

“I’m going to lose my job over this,” police said the 61-year-old Connelly, who works for the city of Danbury, told officers.

On Tuesday night Connelly, of Underhill Road in Newtown, was arrested and charged with risk of injury to children, public indecency and second-degree breach of peace.

“Mr. Connelly was cooperative with police at all times in this matter,” his lawyer, Edward Gavin, said Wednesday. “We will be reviewing all the relevant evidence in the case and look forward to our day in court.”

Connelly was released after posting $10,000 bond pending arraignment in Superior Court in Bridgeport on Nov. 7.

Store manager pleads guilty to selling large quantities of cocaine

Published 3:04 pm, Tuesday, October 24, 2017

BRIDGEPORT -A Seymour man is facing five years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to selling large quantities of cocaine out of the grocery store he manages here.

Wilberto “Baqueo” Colon, 24, of South Main Street, Seymour, pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge Robert Devlin to one count of possession of cocaine with intent to sell.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 12. Colon and his lawyer, Edward Gavin, declined comment as they left the Fairfield County Courthouse.

A plea made under the Alford Doctrine means Colon did not admit his guilt but conceded the state has enough evidence to convict him of the crime if he went to trial. The judge then found him guilty.

$6 million in fentanyl seized on ‘drug’ highway

FAIRFIELD — For the third time in less than a year, police have intercepted a multimillion-dollar shipment of fentanyl as it moved through the state.

Connecticut — and specifically I-95 — has become the major thoroughfare from New York to Rhode Island and points north for the transportation of the synthetic opioid 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine, according to law enforcement officials.

State police said a trooper was monitoring northbound traffic on Interstate 95 here Sept. 30 when a 2017 Chevrolet Cruz with Connecticut plates flew by him at more than 70 miles per hour.

Trooper Matthew Losh pulled the car over by Exit 21 and called for backup including a narcotics sniffing dog.

After the dog reacted to the car’s trunk, police said the driver, 19-year-old Isaiah Roman, of Providence, R.I., consented to let police open the trunk. Inside, police said they found five and a half kilograms of fentanyl valued at about $6 million.“Given the recent increase in overdose deaths attributable to fentanyl, I think it’s fair to say that this seizure has saved lives,” said State’s Attorney John Smriga.

Roman and his passenger, Arianna Spencer, 21, of Cranston, R.I., were both charged with sale of narcotics and possession of narcotics. Roman was being held in lieu of $500,000 bond while Spencer later posted bond. Her lawyer, Edward Gavin, declined comment.


Norwalk man charged in Bridgeport murder

BRIDGEPORT — Cadell Moore never had a chance.

The father of six children had pulled his Chevrolet sport utility vehicle over on Sixth Street on Aug. 24 to fix a problem with it when, police said, he was caught in the city’s drug and gang war.

Moore was shot in the head while bent over his SUV’s engine as David “Westboy Loso” Shavers, a member of Norwalk’s Crips gang, directed a hail of bullets at a house behind Moore, police said. The shooting, they said, was in retaliation for a previous dust-up with members of the city’s East Side gang.On Thursday police arrested the 20-year-old Shavers — of Suncrest Road in Norwalk and already on probation for selling drugs — and charged him with murder, criminal possession of a firearm and carrying a pistol without a permit.

“Cadell Moore’s family would like to thank Chief A.J. Perez, Captain (Roderick) Porter and the Bridgeport Police Department for their efforts in effectuating a speedy arrest in the senseless murder of Cadell,” said the family’s spokesman, Edward Gavin. “The family has lost a father, son and brother in another homicide that should have never happened. We are devastated and look forward to justice being served.”

Settlements reached in school stabbing death suit

MILFORD – The family of a local teenager who fatally stabbed a female classmate to death at Jonathan Law High School three years ago after she rebuffed his invitation to the prom has tentatively agreed to pay a settlement to the mother of the victim.

“I can confirm settlement discussions are proceeding,” said Edward Gavin, the lawyer for Christopher Plaskon and his parents, David and Kathleen Plaskon on Thursday. “Ultimately, in any case of this type, a settlement must be approved in probate court.”

Christopher Plaskon was sentenced June 7, 2016, to 25 years in prison after he pleaded no contest to murder for stabbing 16-year-old Maren Sanchez to death on April 25, 2014, with a steak knife in the hallway of the high school. A week later Sanchez’s mother, Donna Cimarelli-Sanchez filed suit in Superior Court here against the Plaskon family and the Board of Education seeking damages for her daughter’s death. The case against the Board of Education is scheduled to go to trial in May 2018.

Ex-teacher pleads not guilty to sex assault of special Ed student

BRIDGEPORT—A former Central High School teacher pleaded not guilty Tuesday to having a sexual relationship with a special education student.

Not guilty, jury,” Laura Ramos, replied when asked by Superior Court Judge Robert Devlin how she pleaded to the charge of second-degree sexual assault against her.

The judge then continued the case to Aug. 14.

“Laura is presumed innocent and we are looking forward to seeing what the substance of the state’s claims are,” her lawyer, Edward Gavin, said later outside the Fairfield County Courthouse.

Victims sue to freeze assets in sex trafficking case

DANBURY – Two men victimized by what authorities describe as a long-running sex trafficking ring are looking to seize at least $10 million in assets from two men charged last week as clients of the operation. A filing in Bridgeport Superior Court on Wednesday seeks to freeze the assets of Westport resident William Trefzger, 71, a convicted sex offender, and Glastonbury resident Bruce Bemer, 63, the owner of the Waterford Speedbowl and Bemer Petroleum, according to court documents. Bemer and Trefzger are accused of patronizing a trafficked person.

Wednesday’s filing would be the first step toward filing a civil suit for damages. A third man, Robert King of Danbury, is accused of masterminding the ring, which has been in operation for more than 20 years. Police said King preyed on young men with mental disabilities, plying them with drugs including cocaine and heroin until they ran up substantial debts, then pushing them into prostitution to repay the debts. Bemer admitted to investigators that he had been seeing “boys” delivered by King for more than 20 years, court records show.

“These young men deserve a better life — and sexual predators like Bemer and Trefzger will be held accountable for the irreversible damage they have caused,” said the victims’ attorney, Joel Faxon. “Criminals like this have to know that if they engage in such despicable abuse, there will be a heavy financial cost exacted.

“We will extract every last dollar from these sadistic sociopaths and put them out of business permanently,” Faxon said.

Ed Gavin, an attorney representing Trefzger, said he wants to explore further why the state has chosen to use the trafficking laws against those accused of involvement in the ring. Trafficking cases are typically handled by federal authorities, he said.

“There is no claim that these people were forcibly sexually assaulted,” Gavin said. ”I just hope people don’t jump to conclusions. This is a very complicated case.”

Retired teacher sentenced for killing firefighter’s wife

BRIDGEPORT — Veteran Stratford firefighter Greg Anderson has rescued people from burning buildings, but possibly the hardest thing he has had to do was watch his 17-year-old son stand up in court Tuesday and tell the woman who had killed his mother in a car crash last year that he forgave her.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the courtroom.

“My mother was the most important thing to me in this world, but my mother also taught me that we have to forgive; we need to learn to forgive what happened,” Ryan Anderson said, wiping the tears from his eyes as he looked at Eleanore Olbrys standing beside her lawyer a few feet away.

Ryan Anderson then walked back to where his father sat crying, and the two embraced.

Superior Court Judge Kevin Doyle could have sentenced the 79-year-old retired city schoolteacher to a maximum of six months in prison after she pleaded guilty to negligent homicide with a motor vehicle. Instead, he imposed a suspended sentence with two years’ probation.“There is nothing I can do to make it better for this family,” the judge said, wiping his eyes with a tissue his clerk had gingerly offered up from her desk. “There is no sentence the court can make to make the Anderson family whole. I can only offer condolences and hope you will continue to heal.”

In addition to the suspended sentence, the judge ordered Olbrys not to drive until she undergoes a medical examination and a driving test. “Why would you ever drive again,” Greg Anderson angrily demanded.

 Olbrys, who had taught at Harding and Bassick high schools, was on her way home from church on the afternoon of Nov. 16, 2014, in her new Ford Escape sport-utility vehicle when police said she hit the gas instead of the brake and drove into a Ford pickup truck driven by Greg Anderson on Main Street in Stratford.

The crash killed 41-year-old Shannon Anderson, a paraprofessional at Stratford High School and mother of two children, who was sitting next to her husband in the passenger seat.

Assistant State’s Attorney Stephanie Damiani told the judge the victims wanted a severe sentence for Olbrys, who was not on drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash, but understood the limits of what could be done.

“Whatever sentence is imposed by the court will not bring back Shannon Anderson,” the prosecutor said. “The defendant is going to have to live with what she did for the rest of her life.”

Throughout the hearing, Olbrys stood crying.

“On behalf of Eleanor Olbrys and her family, we extend our deepest condolences and apologize,” her lawyer, Edward Gavin, told the judge. “She relives the accident every day.”

Judge upholds city union’s raises

BRIDGEPORT – Mayor Joe Ganim will have to find something else to plug the budget deficit besides stuffing the hole with one union’s retroactive raises. The returned mayor’s efforts to cancel a collective bargaining contract and the related pay hikes he inherited after his re-election in November fizzled in court. Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis on Monday upheld the labor pact negotiated between ex-Mayor Bill Finch and the 155-member supervisors’ union.

Publicly, Ganim was a gracious loser. “I want to thank Judge Bellis for her time in this very important issue,” said the mayor in a statement. “We respect her decision.” But at least one union member wondered if the administration will seek payback, taking aim at the supervisors in the budget Ganim forwards to the City Council early next month.

 The administration has already laid off dozens of city employees, including supervisors.“If Ganim attempts to use this and then retaliate against the union, it’s going to hurt him big time,” said this member, who wished to remain anonymous to avoid retaliation.

Road to court

The origins of the court fight actually date back to Ganim’s first tenure as Bridgeport’s chief executive in the 1990s. During that time the salaries of the mayor and key, non-union, often politically appointed department heads and advisers were, through a city ordinance, linked with those of the supervisors’. Upon returning to City Hall on Dec. 1, Ganim learned that a five-year contract with the supervisors that included two years of retroactive salary increases and three future raises had been quietly implemented during Finch’s final days in office. The matter had been tabled by the City Council in part because it meant Finch, who lost September’s Democratic primary to Ganim, and his staff would receive payouts. But the Council had been unaware that under state law, unless that body rejected the deal, it went into effect after a few weeks.

The Ganim administration has claimed Finch left behind a $20 million debt. So the mayor and his attorneys convinced the City Council over the winter that they had found a loophole — a date change — allowing that body to vote down the deal with the supervisors.

The matter landed in court.

Edward Gavin, the supervisors’ attorney, contended the date change was an allowed fix to a clerical error. But the citys lawyer claimed the date change nullifed the contract — including the raises.

Bellis agreed with Gavin. She said the later revision correcting the date did not change the goals of the contract, which she said benefited the city. In exchange for the raises the union agreed to concessions like unpaid furlough days and, more importantly for Bridgeport’s future financial health, eliminating post-retirement health benefits for new hires.

Gold Finch

During the nine-day trial before Bellis, Deputy City Attorney John Bohannon wove a narrative of a Finch administration desperate to find a way to push the contract through so they could reap the monetary benefits.

Bohannon singled out City Council President Thomas McCarthy, who until recently was deputy director of labor relations, and Senior Labor Relations Director Thomas Austin. Both received retroative raises. McCarthy got a check for $14,654 and Austin for $11,506. Bohannon claimed McCarthy purposely hid from the council that the contract with the union would be automatically approved if a vote was tabled.

McCarthy has argued because he was a member of the union it would have been a conflict-of-interest for him to participate in any council discussions of the contract.

“The court vehemently finds that neither Mr. McCarthy’s nor Mr. (Senior Labor Relations Director Thomas) Austin actions were unfairly influenced by the contract,” Bellis stated Monday from the bench. “The court finds both Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Austin testified truthfully and there is no evidence Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Austin were working against the benefit of the city.”

McCarthy afterward said he appreciated the judge’s comments. “I still question why the city put out a claim that was false but I’m glad this decision puts that to rest,” McCarthy said.

Ganim during the campaign had pledged to try and stop the practice of allowing municipal employees to also serve on the council. He recently negotiated a severance deal with McCarthy.

Gavin called Bohannon’s allegations “unconscionable.”

“We are glad the court found these claims were baseless,” Gavin said. “The (union) has always acted in good faith in our negotiations and today the court recognized that.”

There has been speculation that the Ganim administration was going to lose in court since at least earlier this month when the supervisors’ rejected a settlement offer.

 Supervisors challenge Ganim in court over raises

 BRIDGEPORT — The city’s supervisors have gone to court to block an attempt by Mayor Joseph Ganim to cancel their new contract and negotiated pay raises.

The Bridgeport Supervisors Association, a 168-person union, on Monday sought an injunction to keep Ganim from interfering with a collective bargaining agreement approved late last year under then-Mayor Bill Finch. Ganim inherited the pact when he was sworn in Dec. 1. He convinced the City Council, which had twice tabled the matter during Finch’s final days in office, to reject the contract at a Dec. 30 meeting.

The supervisors’ attorney, Edward Gavin, maintains the council’s vote was meaningless because, under state law, the agreement went into effect while it was in limbo.

A conference on the union’s request has been scheduled with a state Superior Court judge for Thursday.

 The City Council had twice tabled the matter in large part because, under statute, around 60 non-union municipal employees — including Finch and his close advisers — would receive retroactive raises along with the supervisors. The contract included two years worth of retroactive 3 percent increases. But concessions favoring the city included unpaid furlough days for workers and eliminating health benefits for retirees. At the time the council held off on a vote — Oct. 19 and Nov. 2 — Finch had lost September’s Democratic mayoral primary to Ganim. So regardless of the outcome of the Nov. 3 general election, Finch and his politically appointed staff were headed for the exit.

Some on the council, particularly members allied with Ganim and Democratic Chairman Mario Testa, did not want the Finch administration to benefit from the retroactive raises. What the council was never told was that, under state statute, if that legislative body did not vote down the contract, then within a period of weeks it was automatically implemented. It was a five-year deal, with the union and 60 non-union municipal employees, Ganim included, also scheduled to receive raises over the next three years. Ganim has since claimed he inherited a $20 million deficit from Finch and is looking for ways to save money. Part of that strategy included finding a legal reason to cancel the collective bargaining agreement with the supervisors.

Ganim’s legal team thought they found that in a date change within the contract that they claimed gave the council a second chance to shoot it down. So the council met Dec. 30 in a special meeting convened by Ganim.

The union claims the date change was allowed under a “clerical error” provision of the contract and the council’s Dec. 30 vote was meaningless and based on “legal fiction.” But City Hall clearly disagrees. According to the union’s injunction request, “The city has recently advised (the supervisors union) that it will unilaterally, illegally and arbitrarily revise and adjust the wages and salaries” of the 168 members. That includes, according to the legal documents, not just reducing the wages but trying to get back the retroactive payments.

The court documents also claim that in scheduling the Dec. 30 special council meeting, the Ganim administration failed to follow the city’s own rules for notifying the public. If the contract is ultimately nullified in court, it is unclear how the city might recoup the raises already paid out, particularly to individuals like Finch, who are no longer employed by Bridgeport. Earlier this month, the state Labor Department said the only likely recourse would be for the city to take those individuals to court.

Milford’s Christopher Plaskon faces 25 years in murder of Maren Sanchez, after plea deal

Pleads no contest in 2014 school stabbing of Maren Sanchez, 16  Published 10:04 am, Monday, March 7, 2016

MILFORD >> Christopher M. Plaskon, 18, accepted a plea deal Monday and faces a 25-year prison sentence June 6 for the murder of classmate Maren Sanchez, 16, two years ago.

“It’s almost on the anniversary of her death, and I hope they (the family) and the community can move on and heal,” Ansonia-Milford Judicial District State’s Attorney Kevin D. Lawlor said outside of court.Sanchez was attacked April 25, 2014, at Jonathan Law High School, where she and Plaskon were juniors.

Plaskon could be eligible for release after serving 60 percent of his sentence, which could potentially see him free in 13 years, his attorney, Edward J. Gavin, said outside of court.

Plaskon changed his plea from not guilty to nolo contendere, or no contest, to one count of murder during a brief appearance in Superior Court. The plea means he does not contest the charges.

 “Both sides took a long time to assess the facts,” Lawlor said. Lawlor, asked whether it is a fair sentence, said, “I have to make judgments based on what the law requires.”

State law mandates the judge and prosecutor consider the age of the youth at sentencing, Lawlor said. Plaskon was 16 when Sanchez was killed.

Ganim threatens layoffs if unions reject austerity measures

BRIDGEPORT — Mayor Joe Ganim‘s administration took negotiations with city employees public on Tuesday, calling on union officials to accept concessions or face layoffs.

“We have been in negotiations with organized labor for months, but time is growing short to close our current fiscal year deficit,” said Bridgeport Chief Administrative Officer John Gomes, in a statement. “We are willing to be as flexible as possible but the bottom line is we need more savings.” The administration says that if city employee unions accept $4 million worth of cuts by July 1, the administration can avoid the “last resort” decision to lay off more workers. Ganim inherited a $20 million budget gap when he took office on Dec. 1, according to Bridgeport Director of Communications Av Harris. The city has already laid off around 100 workers and incentivized another 51 into early retirement.

Those early retirements and unpaid furlough days represent significant concessions by city employees, argued Bridgeport Supervisor Association counsel Edward J. Gavin.

“This administration fails to recognize the sacrifices the Union members have and are continuing to make to support the City,” Gavin said by email. “Unions such as the Bridgeport City Supervisors Association have, in the past, gone years without raises to meet the fiscal needs of the Administration. It is reckless and dangerous to layoff dedicated employees who serve the citizens of Bridgeport.”

Gavin offered no additional concessions and predicted that the city would start cutting positions.“We anticipate new layoffs will be announced on Friday,” he said.

State Supreme Court will again hear death-penalty arguments

On the 17th anniversary of the murder of a 8-year-old Bridgeport boy and his mother on orders from drug kingpin Russell Peeler Jr., prosecutors will try to convince the state’s highest court that he must die. State’s attorneys will offer new reasons to a seven-judge state Supreme Court panel on why the repeal of the death penalty should not apply to Peeler — and the 10 others on death row.While the high court narrowly ruled last summer the inmates are exempt from the death penalty, state prosecutors will argue the General Assembly did not mean the 2012 repeal of the death penalty to apply to those already sentenced to die.

“The judgment in this case must be reversed with respect to the imposition of a sentence of death and the case must be remanded with direction to impose a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of release,” said a brief filed by Assistant Public Defender Mark Rademacher and Lisa Steele, a private attorney for Peeler, who will not attend the hearing. It will take place at 10 a.m. in the historic Supreme Court chamber on Capitol Avenue in Hartford.The makeup of the court has changed since August, when Associate Justice Richard Palmer led a four-member majority in declaring that executing the death row inmates after the statewide repeal would amount to cruel and unusual punishment for the state’s most dangerous murderers.

Associate Justice Flemming L. Norcott Jr., who sided with Palmer, has since retired and has been replaced by Associate Justice Richard A. Robinson who prosecutors hope is more conservative on the death penalty.Conversely, the new argument over the repeal could put Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers in a position to switch to Palmer’s side to protect the court’s precedent-setting decision last August.

Edward J. Gavin, a Bridgeport attorney who is a past president of the Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and an opponent of the death penalty, said Wednesday the case has attracted the attention of the state’s entire legal community.

“The argument tomorrow is a roundabout attempt to influence the previous decision and prior rulings,” Gavin said in a phone interview. “People in the abolition world, we’re all nervous that the Supreme Court could reverse itself.”

Driver pleads no contest in cop’s death

Updated 11:20 pm, Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Bridgeport man who struck a Shelton police officer with his car on the Fourth of July last year pleaded no contest to one count of second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle on Wednesday in state Superior Court in Derby.

Bruce Knapik, 65, accepted full responsibility for his actions, according to his attorney, Edward J. Gavin. A charge of driving under the influence against Knapik was dropped.

 Defendants enter a no contest plea when they don’t admit to all of the facts presented by the prosecutor, but feel there is enough evidence for a conviction.On July 4, 2010, Shelton officer Orville Smith, 64, was struck by a Nissan Frontier pickup truck driven by Knapik on Route 110 at Indian Well Road, police said.

Smith was directing traffic after a private fireworks event. He died four days later from complications from internal injuries suffered when he was struck by Knapik’s truck. Knapik was not injured.

“This is a tragic situation for the Smith family in losing a beloved family member,” Gavin said. “The Knapik family will be separated from a man they love and support. There are no winners in this case.”

Knapik is expected to serve no less than two years in prison, but no more than four. He will be placed on probation following his release.

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