Ansonia BOAT approves $28 million for Ansonia schools.
PACKED house in Ansonia City Hall for (what we assume) is final budget meeting. http://t.co/7fBeNcVOHP
Anglace: Jailing Scinto Is A Missed Opportunity
by Jodie Mozdzer Gil | Apr 7, 2011 10:52 pm
Posted to: Shelton, Shelton Corruption Probe
It could have worked.
That proposal from Shelton developer Robert Scinto to pay for and pitch an ethics code to public officials and professional trade organizations.
The one he offered as an alternative to jail. The one a federal judge rejected Wednesday, when he sentenced Scinto to six months in prison for lying to federal agents in their corruption probe in Shelton.
It could have worked, Shelton Board of Aldermen President John Anglace said Thursday.
“I’m not pleading for Scinto,” Anglace said. “I’m pleading for what the proposal could do. I think the proposal has merits and I think we missed that opportunity by incarcerating him, versus harnessing what he could bring to the table to help us.”
Scinto faced a maximum of roughly two years in prison. Federal prosecutors had pushed for jail time for his lie — about giving gifts and money to public officials in Shelton.
Scinto’s attorney, James Cowdery, offered something less traditional.
Under the proposal, Scinto would then go on a speaking tour of sorts, educating professionals on why it’s a bad idea to give gifts to public officials with whom you’re doing business.
It’s a moot point: Senior U.S. District Judge Charles Haight Jr. rejected the plan when he sentenced Scinto to prison. Scinto is scheduled to go to jail on May 24.
Anglace, who wrote a letter to Haight on Scinto’s behalf, said Thursday he is disappointed about that decision.
“We wasted his talent,” Anglace said. “We wasted an opportunity. We missed an opportunity.”
Anglace said Scinto’s proposal would have worked for several reasons.
- Ethics codes target public officials and workers, but lack guidance to developers and other private sector employees.
“That’s the group that hasn’t even been talked about,” Anglace said. “They’re left out of the process, and they’re part of the problem.”
- Past prison sentences for high profile gift giving and taking haven’t stopped future corruption, Anglace said. “We’re spending countless hours of federal money and time to investigate these things,” Anglace said. “You look and say, if they are sending a message, for ten years, why isn’t it working? Isn’t it time to question that?”
“It’s time for them to rethink it,” Anglace said. “Here Scinto handed them on a platter a way to start in a new direction.”
But political opponents, ethics professors and federal prosecutors said Scinto’s plan was, at beast, misguided.
Most public officials and developers know right from wrong — and if they don’t, who says a lecture from a convicted felon is going to put them on the right path?
“You usually think of these education programs as having particular value for when you’re dealing with people in their formative years — not making business choices in their established careers,” said Thomas Morawetz, a professor of law and ethics at the University of Connecticut Law School.
“I’d be very skeptical about the educational value of this to that group of people. They’ve thought it out well enough. They know what their moral position is.”
Morawetz said Anglance’s argument that private employees need guidance on the topic is “nonsense.”
“Being told this is a bad thing is not going to be news to them,” Morawetz said. “They’ve thought it out well enough. They know what their moral position is.”
And even if the program would work, Scinto wouldn’t be the best person to pitch the ethics, Morawetz — and federal prosecutors — said.
“Quite frankly, he’s the last person this court should send out to speak about ethics,” Senior Litigation Counsel Richard Schechter said during his statements in court Wednesday.
Alderman John “Jack” Finn, the only Democrat on the board, said he was surprised Anglace got involved by writing a letter. He also said Scinto’s proposal was out of line.
“Mr. Scinto has done a lot for the City of Shelton as far as keeping our taxes down,” Finn said. “But when you get caught in a lie, you don’t try to make a sweetheart deal with a community to try to undo things.”
Nothing to keep Mr. Scinto from doing what he offered on his own volition.
The movie “Catch Me If You Can” was about a guy who pulled off check fraud, and now he is an advisor to the banking industry to prevent the same types of fraud.
People can change.