Bribery Conviction Upheld in Connecticut

     (CN) – A Connecticut man was properly convicted of attempting to bribe a judge overseeing the grand jury considering charges stemming from the disappearance of the man’s wife, an appeals court ruled.
     Mary Badaracco disappeared from her Sherman, Conn, home in August 1984, and has not been seen or heard from since. More than 25 years later, the chief state’s attorney empanelled an investigating grand jury to examine the circumstances surrounding Badaracco’s disappearance.
     The target of this inquiry, according to an appellate court ruling written by Chief Judge Alexandra DiPentima, was Badaracco’s husband, Dominic.
     After the grand jury subpoenaed the daughter of Badaracco’s current wife, he allegedly contacted his friend and former business partner, Ronald Richter. Badaracco asked Richter to speak with his childhood friend, Superior Court Judge Robert Brunetti, who was assigned the New Britain judicial district, where the investigation was taking place.
     According to Judge DiPentima’s account, Richter called the judge and asked if he knew anything about a grand jury sitting in New Britain investigating Badaracco.
     Brunetti said he had no knowledge of such a panel, but Richter persisted, asking if the judge could poke around.
     The Superior Court judge is alleged to have replied, “I will see what I can find out.”
     Despite the assurance he offered his friend, Brunetti made not deliberate attempt to find out anything about the case. Instead, he only learned of the grand jury’s actual existence while having lunch with other judges.
     Four or five days later, when Ritchter called him again, Brunetti confirmed the existence of the grand jury, DiPentima wrote.
     Days later, using Richter’s phone, Badaracco called Brunetti and said he needed the judge’s help.
     “They’ve all been subpoenaed for Friday,” Badaracco said, as quoted in the opinion.
     Brunetti is reported to have told Badaracco there was nothing he could do.
     “You’re just going to have to wait and see what happens,” he said.
     Badaracco then purportedly said, “[L]isten, I’m only going to say this once, it’s worth 100 Gs.”
     Brunetti later testified he was stunned by what he interpreted as an offer of money for interfering with the grand jury investigation and hung up the telephone.
     The next day, the opinion says, Brunetti reported the defendant’s actions to the chief court administrator, who notified the chief state’s attorney.
     Badaracco was arrested, charged, and ultimately convicted, on June 28, 2013, of attempting to bribe Brunetti. He was later sentenced to seven years in prison and three years of parole.
     Badaracco immediately filed an appeal, arguing there was insufficient evidence to convict him.
     But the Connecticut Appellate Court affirmed Badaracco’s conviction in a ruling released Tuesday, finding that his statement about the “100 Gs” was a bribe, not mere “preparation” to bribe.
     “The defendant’s statement and actions in the surrounding circumstances amply supported the jury’s verdict on the theory that the defendant had expressed an ability and a desire to pay Brunetti a $100,000 bribe,” DiPentima wrote for the three-judge panel. “Accordingly, we conclude that the court properly denied his motions for a judgment of acquittal and amended motion for a new trial.”
     Evidence about Mary Badaracco’s vanishing did not prejudice the jury, the ruling states.
     “[T]he court instructed the jury to consider evidence regarding the disappearance of Mary Badaracco only with respect to the defendant’s alleged motive and intent to commit bribery and for no other purpose,” DiPentima wrote.
     The panel further held that the lower court did not improperly prevent Badaracco from asking Brunetti in cross-examination if he thought contacting the defendant was unethical.
     Attorneys for the defendant declined to comment.

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