Former Bridgeport PD Chief Armando Perez pleads guilty to rigging police exam

BRIDGEPORT, Connecticut -- The former chief of a Connecticut police department pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges connected to what prosecutors called a corrupt process that led to his appointment.

Former Bridgeport Police Chief Armando Perez defrauded the city by rigging the 2018 chief of police exam to ensure he would get the job.

Perez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of making false statements.

Bridgeport's former acting personnel director, David Dunn, was also expected to plead guilty in the case later Monday. Prosecutors said Dunn gave the confidential testing information to Perez.

"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," acting US Attorney Audrey Strauss said.

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Perez could face up to two years in prison under a plea deal in which he admitted receiving confidential information about the police chief's examination, having two of his officers complete the written portion of the test and lying to federal authorities in an effort to cover up his actions. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of five years.

Both Perez and Dunn resigned from their jobs after being arrested last month.

Perez and his lawyer, Robert Frost Jr., appeared in federal court in Bridgeport before Judge Kari Dooley during a hearing that also was available for public viewing via a video conference. Everyone in the courtroom wore masks.

Perez, 64, dressed in a suit and tie, also agreed to pay more than $149,000 in restitution to the city. He will remain free on bail until his sentencing on Jan. 4.

Dooley said Perez could also face potential deportation because of his guilty pleas to two felonies. Perez was born in Havana, Cuba, and is a naturalized citizen.

According to the criminal complaints, Dunn gave confidential materials, including answers to the oral portion of the police chief exam, to Perez and tailored the scoring criteria for that exam in Perez's favor.

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Perez, who had been with the Bridgeport Police Department for nearly four decades and is close to Mayor Joe Ganim, also had two police officers secretly take the written portion of the exam for him, investigators said.

Dunn also instructed officials to eliminate a scoring penalty imposed if the candidates did not have a bachelor's degree, the complaint said. Perez was the only applicant without one, authorities said.

Dunn, according to investigators, falsely denied that he told a member of the panel ranking the chief candidates that the mayor wanted Perez to be among the top three candidates.

Ganim has denied any wrongdoing in Perez's appointment as chief.

Ganim returned to office in 2015 after serving nearly seven years in prison for corruption. He was convicted of steering city contracts in exchange for private gifts during his first tenure as Bridgeport mayor, from 1991 until his resignation in 2003.

He was released from prison in 2010 and elected mayor again after apologizing and asking residents for a second chance.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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