A Cool Justice Report Exclusive
News & Commentary
FLIP THAT LAND
With A Little Help
From My Friends
In Town Government
How To Rip Off
A Guy With
Sam Hubster Was Scammed
By Enfield Hucksters,
AKA Town Officials
And The Powers That Be
He Told His Story
To Corruption Investigator
For Chief State's Attorney
The Same Power Clique
Advancing Troiano Interests
Used The Power Of Government
To Club Montessori School Nuns And Students
By ANDY THIBAULT
And JIM BREWER
The Cool Justice Report
Aug. 20, 2007
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is available for reprint courtesy of The Cool Justice Report, http://cooljustice.blogspot.com
ENFIELD -- The numbers tell much of the story. The questions they raise -- when answered -- will tell the rest of the story.
Small businessman / outsider said he had a deal to get about $650,000 from CVS for land at a prime intersection in Enfield - the corner of Enfield and Elm streets.
Town said, No Way. Big problem with traffic and historic structure.
The small businessman / outsider sold to Connected Inside Man for significantly less -- in the neighborhood of $350,000.
Traffic and historic structure roadblocks disappeared. Connected Inside Man somehow flipped that land for development -- receiving considerations including a reported $1 million from Enfield Federal Savings. Documents also show the bank leases the land from an entity controlled by Connected Inside Man.
In any case, town officials cheered and development proceeded.
Funny how $650,000 shrunk to about $350,000 and then grew to $1 million -- unless you are doing business in Enfield. Then, as in other deals, it all depends on who is moving the pieces on the chessboard.
Whether it's issuing a cease and desist order for a 60-year-old parking lot that pre-dated regulations, building on lots where construction is not allowed, finessing a tax break for a connected bank, or placing a crematorium in a residential neighborhood with the help of a state "rat" bill -- designed to help only one particular connected individual or group -- local government in Enfield tends to benefit a certain few over the many.
To the extent that government actions might have been taken to benefit a chosen few in exchange for any favors or gifts, the chosen few have come under scrutiny by political corruption investigators from the Chief State's Attorney's office.
Indeed, the Public Integrity And Political Corruption unit of the Chief State's Attorney's office seems to be picking up steam, raiding the house of Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez in a corruption probe just last week. The unit began an investigation of Enfield Mayor Patrick Tallarita and others earlier this year.
East Windsor businessman Sam Hubster told The Cool Justice report in recent interviews about his pending deal with CVS that went down the drain due to forces beyond his control. Hubster said he met with a corruption investigator from the Chief State's Attorney's office, responding to detailed and probing questions.
"[The investigator] was very interested," Hubster said. "We spoke for about half an hour [during the initial interview]."
"One reason [the Enfield Planning and Zoning] turned [my] plan down was they said the traffic counts would be too high," Hubster recalled. "The other reason was they said some structure in the back of the house on the property could not be razed, as it was historical. They screwed me big time. They are a bogus commission.
"I was going to get $600,000 … $650,000 … I ended up getting [about] half," Hubster said. "Troiano knew that I had it because I know they were the ones that were fighting it. They called me and then made a down payment."
Troiano -- The Connected Inside Man -- is Big Anthony Troiano, a vehement foe of the Enfield Montessori School and a businessman with vast land holdings in town.
Big Anthony was able to get not only the Hubster parcel. He was able to remove the historic building and have two other residential lots razed. Big Anthony developed the new Enfield Federal Savings building and an adjacent medical office building. Traffic counts and historic structures were no longer at issue. A new CVS was built across the street from where Enfield Federal now stands.
"It's not right that somebody should be able to do that," Hubster said. "I called up several lawyers and no one would do anything. They heard it was Troiano."
In other recent developments, sources tell The Cool Justice Report:
* An Enfield Realtor told associates about being approached by Jeannette and Patrick Tallarita and Diane and David Frederick to help develop major tracts of land near the Enfield Montessori School. When questioned by The Cool Justice Report, the Realtor denied making those statements.
Much has been made of an easement restriction in the area that ostensibly would prevent development. However, nothing stopped construction of two houses on Yale Court even when the property was listed by town officials as "not a buildable lot … "
* Mayor Patrick Tallarita has been contacted by the Chief State's Attorney's Office and has told associates he is considering answering questions without legal counsel sometime after returning from a vacation.
* Various witnesses have been coming forward to report accounts of assaults allegedly committed by a town official. Although police were called regarding these incidents, apparently no action was ever taken against the official.
* Not all town officials having business with Enfield Federal Savings have recused themselves from acting on a tax break request. One town official allegedly has or had a personal loan with the bank.
* State law enforcement authorities are reviewing the Shaw's Supermarket Memorial Day incident in which Tallarita allegedly threatened a witness in the corruption investigation. Among the areas of inquiry: whether local police, acting "off the job," attempted to obtain store surveillance videos to protect Tallarita.
* Businessmen whose companies have appeared before town commissions have hosted an official or officials at various beach houses on the East Coast.
Big Anthony Troiano has also been known to dip into the public trough. At one point, Big Anthony and his partners owed the town about $40,000 in property taxes, but the town still paid them about $180,000 over two years to repair cop cars and other vehicles. They also flouted a state law requiring payment of at least 75 percent of disputed taxes at the same time the town paid them for services.
Troiano interests over the years have included a plaza housing a former CVS and a local office of the state Labor Department. The lease for the Labor Department office is overseen by Tallarita, the department's director of facilities operations.
"Everyone knew Troiano was blocking CVS moving into [my] property, because he owned the plaza they were leasing from him at the time," Hubster said. "Troiano built up the Enfield Revitalization Corp., which worked to block my development."
The Enfield Revitalization Corp. sent two letters to town officials opposing the Hubster development without specifying a reason.
Indeed, key forces lined up in an apparent effort to stop anything like the Hubster deal. Those same forces seemed to end their resistance once Hubster sold to Big Anthony Troiano and Troiano went forward with his development.
Before Troiano took control of the land, Assistant Town Planner Roger Alsbaugh -- liaison to the Historic District Commission -- corresponded with the state archaeologist and a New York consultant to help preserve Terry House. Also, Enfield Historic District Commission Chairman Richard Tatoian -- an attorney and now a director of Enfield Federal Savings -- pushed hard to preserve the centuries-old house at 1-3 Elm St., where Enfield Federal now stands.
The Terry House has been described as a pre-Revolutionary War relic and one of the oldest homes in town at its original site. The Terry family was said to be involved in the military during the Revolution. Tatoian, in a position paper for the Historic District Commission delivered to the Town Council, said, "the structure certainly stands on its own merits as a classically simple architectural representative of its time." He asked the council to help preserve the house.
The Hartford Courant editorial page raved about Tatoian's courageous stand, opining: "Credit the Enfield Historic District Commission with taking seriously its job as a watchdog for history."
Why wasn't the same position taken against the bank? After Hubster's proposal was rejected, only the applicant and the owner changed. What caused the silence?
Hubster's request for a zone change was denied in 1998. Around that time, an analysis said traffic would increase more at the site for a bank than a pharmacy.
In 2004, Troiano submitted plans to the town to build a new headquarters for Enfield Federal at the intersection of Enfield and Elm streets.
As Enfield Federal began building at the corner of Enfield and Elm streets, the Town Council voted in December 2005 to grant the bank a tax break based on the promise of about 40 new jobs.
Only about half those jobs materialized, yet, sources said, the bank continues to press to this day for the full tax break. One of the jobs went to the mayor's sister, state Rep. Kathy Tallarita.
Tax breaks generally go to the landowner. In this case, documents show Troiano began leasing the land to Enfield Federal in 2005. The Hartford Courant reported the bank paid $1 million for the land, but, at the same time, records show a 25-year lease between the bank and a Troiano entity.
In the small world / small town department, Tatoian not only owns bank stock and serves on the bank board, he is also an officer of Leete-Stevens funeral home, owned by fellow bank board member Richard Stevens. Stevens is a former board member of the Enfield Montessori School who, like Tatoian, is known to bow to the wishes of Troiano.
Tatoian and Stevens were both allies of the school -- until Enfield Montessori began the application process for an addition that would have included a community room and off-street parking away from the highway. Town officials who tried to shut down the school last year have voiced concerns about safety -- while doing nothing to help secure safe parking toward the back of the school.
Here's what Big Anthony had to say about the community room and off-street parking:
"The school refused to accept the [Historic District] commission's ruling. It's like a teacher telling a child no. Why does the school continue to return again and again when they have been told that the application is not appropriate for the Enfield Historic District … Once this paving is accepted, no one can stop the school from fulfilling their intent to asphalt their backyard total. This is their way of coming back through the back door to the large addition to the school built.
"The school made their own problems," Big Anthony Troiano continued. "If you wish the school to grow as it has in the past, the most sensible thing to do is find another location out of this Historic District to build a brand new beautiful school. Or do the most obvious thing. Use the empty buildings across the street owned by the Felician Sisters."
Before that, Tatoian and Stevens had a history of helping the Felician Sisters and the Enfield Montessori School. That help stopped after the school began the application process. Stevens resigned from the Montessori board.
While the town's efforts to shut down the Montessori School failed with a Superior Court ruling last year, taxpayers are still footing the bill for a case before the state Appellate Court. In the latter matter, the school seeks to overturn a ruling by the Historic District Commission regarding the proposed addition and paving. The Sisters said they do not want to increase enrollment, rather, they just want safe parking and a place for students to go during inclement weather.
Notably, some of the same people protecting or helping Troiano are among those who have been using local government to club the nuns and students of Enfield Montessori School. Tatoian and the new town manager, for example, are among those widely viewed as straw men for Troiano and the ruling clique.
"What better than for a local bank to be on the main street through Enfield, bank President David O'Connor told The Hartford Courant in September 2005. A few months later, the Tallarita-led Enfield Town Council granted the tax abatement.
The night the tax break was granted, the Town Council also voted to pay Town Attorney Christopher Bromson an additional $1,000 per week as acting town manager. The Town Council, led by Tallarita, had recently engineered the firing of long-time Town Manager Scott Shanley.
The current town manager, Matthew Coppler, was the subject of a foreclosure action in Batavia, NY. Strangely and / or coincidentally, Coppler's confidential mortgage information regarding a separate mortgage -- on his Enfield house -- was leaked last month as the town negotiated with Enfield Federal Savings over the tax break. Coppler said his local mortgage is with Enfield Federal.
State corruption investigators have received numerous tips and documents about public officials and others in recent months. Areas of inquiry in the criminal investigation include but are not limited to:
* Alleged sale of government services including votes for personal gain.
* Alleged manipulation or alteration of land records.
* Alleged steering of a lease to a crony.
* Work allegedly done by a state contractor at a private residence.
* Alleged acceptance of gratuities including vacation trips and merchandise.
* Alleged falsification of time records by town employees working less than full shifts.
[CONTACT INFO: Chief State’s Attorney’s Office
Public Integrity and Political Corruption Bureau
300 Corporate Place
Rocky Hill, CT 06067