Audrey Strauss, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Acting Under Authority Conferred by 28 U.S.C. § 515, announced that ARMANDO J. PEREZ, the former Chief of Police of the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut (the “City”), and DAVID DUNN, the City’s former acting personnel director, pled guilty today to defrauding the City by rigging the 2018 police chief examination in order to ensure PEREZ would be selected for the position, and to making false statements to federal agents in the course of the investigation. PEREZ and DUNN pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Kari A. Dooley in Bridgeport federal court this morning.
Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “As they have now admitted, former Chief Perez and former 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. Today’s pleas are a significant step in ensuring that Bridgeport’s citizens and police officers have leaders with integrity who are committed to enforcing, not breaking, the law.”
According to the allegations contained in the Complaint, the Informations, publicly available information, court filings, and statements made during the plea proceedings:
The Scheme to Rig the City of Bridgeport’s Police Chief Exam
The charges arise from a criminal scheme to rig the City’s search for a new Bridgeport Police Department (“BPD”) chief in 2018. During the course of this scheme, PEREZ – who was serving as the acting BPD chief at the time – conspired with DUNN, who is and was at that time the City’s acting personnel director, 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.
More specifically, in or about February 2018, the City commenced a search to fill the position of permanent chief of police. Under the City’s Charter, the City was required to conduct an “open and competitive examination” to determine the top three scoring candidates for the position, from which the mayor could then choose. DUNN, in his role as the personnel director, oversaw the police chief examination process, and retained an outside consultant (“Consultant-1”) to assist with developing and carrying out the exam. DUNN and PEREZ then manipulated that examination process in multiple ways: DUNN stole confidential examination questions and related information developed by Consultant-1, and provided those materials to PEREZ, including by email; DUNN had Consultant-1 tailor the examination scoring criteria to favor PEREZ; PEREZ enlisted two BPD officers to secretly draft and write PEREZ’s written exam; and DUNN attempted to influence a panelist, tasked with ranking the candidates in the last stage of the exam, to ensure that PEREZ was scored as one of the top three candidates.
As a result of the scheme, the City was deceived into ranking PEREZ among the top three candidates, which rendered him eligible for the permanent police chief position. The mayor ultimately offered the position to PEREZ, and the City, under the assurance that PEREZ had been appointed in accordance with the City Charter, entered into a five-year contract with PEREZ, the terms of which included a payout to PEREZ for accrued leave.
False Statements by PEREZ and DUNN
PEREZ and DUNN were each voluntarily interviewed in connection with the FBI’s investigation. In an attempt to conceal their conduct, during those interviews they both lied to FBI agents about facts material to the criminal investigation. PEREZ provided false and misleading information about the assistance DUNN and others had provided him in connection with the examination process, including his requests to a BPD officer to sneak into headquarters to retrieve stolen confidential information provided by DUNN. DUNN falsely denied requesting an exam panelist ensure that PEREZ was scored as one of the top three candidates.
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PEREZ, 64, of Trumbull, Connecticut, and DUNN, 73, of Stratford, Connecticut, each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison; and one count of making false statements to federal investigators, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
PEREZ is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Dooley on January 4, 2021, and DUNN is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Dooley on January 11, 2021.
The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as the sentences of PEREZ and DUNN will be determined by the Court.
Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding work of the FBI and the Special Agents of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit and White Plains Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eli J. Mark and Jeffrey C. Coffman, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan N. Francis of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut, are in charge of the prosecution.