Audrey Strauss, 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”), was sentenced today to 12 months and one day in prison for participating in a scheme to defraud the City by rigging the 2018 police chief examination in order to ensure he would be selected for the position, and to making false statements to federal agents in the course of the investigation. PEREZ previously pled guilty in Bridgeport federal court on October 5, 2020, before U.S. District Judge Kari A. Dooley, who also imposed today’s sentence.
U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “Former Chief Perez schemed to rig the search for a permanent police chief to ensure the position was awarded to him, and then he repeatedly lied to federal agents in order to conceal his conduct. Today’s sentence sends a strong message that public officials will be held accountable when they corruptly put their own self-interest above their duties to faithfully serve their citizens.”
According to the allegations contained in the Complaint, the Information, other court filings, statements made during court proceedings, and publicly available information:
The Scheme to Rig the City of Bridgeport’s Police Chief Exam
In or about 2018, PEREZ participated in 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 David Dunn, who 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. PEREZ and Dunn 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.
PEREZ’s False Statements
PEREZ was voluntarily interviewed in connection with the FBI’s investigation. In an attempt to conceal his conduct, during those interviews he 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.
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In addition to the prison term, PEREZ, 64, of Trumbull, Connecticut, was sentenced to two years of supervised release, a fine in the amount of $7,500, and restitution of $299,407.
On October 5, 2020, Dunn pled guilty to his participation in the scheme to rig the City’s police chief search and to making false statements to federal investigators, and is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Dooley tomorrow.
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.