Some of Bridgeport’s top police officials have been accused of rigging the city’s police chief search two years ago and then attempting to cover it up, according to federal authorities.
Bridgeport Police Chief Armando Perez and the city’s acting Personnel Director David Dunn were arrested on Thursday, Sept. 10 by federal investigators for allegedly rigging the 2018 search for a new chief to ensure Perez would win.
Additionally, Perez and Dunn were charged with making false statements to federal agents during the investigation into the alleged fraud.
It is alleged that Perez - who was the acting Bridgeport Police Department at the time of the election - conspired to deceive the city by secretly rigging what was a purported independent search for a new police chief.
The scheme allowed Perez to be named a top-three finalist for the position, and led to him being awarded a five-year contract to continue serving as Chief of Police.
Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said that Dunn and Perez allegedly manipulated the examination process to fill the permanent chief position in a variety of ways with the help of a third party.
Specifically, Dunn allegedly stole confidential exam questions and inside information, and then provided them to Perez. The third party then tailored the chief’s exam scoring criteria to favor Perez.
It is further alleged that Perez enlisted two Bridgeport Police Department officers to write his exam while Dunn attempted to influence a panelist who had been tasked with ranking the candidates in the final stage of the chief’s examination, ensuring that Perez was scored as one of the top candidates for the position.
Strauss said that “the city was deceived into ranking Perez among the top three candidates, rendering him eligible for the permanent police chief position, leading to the mayor to offer him the job for five-years with a payout of more than $300,000.
During the FBI’s investigations into the alleged fraud, Perez and Dunn were each interviewed and lied to investigators, Strauss said.
Perez provided false and misleading information about the assistance Dunn and others provided him, including his requests to have a Bridgeport Police officer sneak into headquarters to retrieve confidential information that had been provided by Dunn, which he denied.
“As alleged, Chief Perez and 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,” Strauss said.
“Bridgeport’s citizens and police officers deserve leaders with integrity who are committed to enforcing, not breaking, the law.”
Perez, 64, of Trumbull, and Dunn, 72, of Stratford, have been charged with wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Additionally, Perez was charged with two counts of false statements to federal investigators, and Dunn was charged with one count of false statements to federal investigators.
“I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the members of the United States Attorney’s Offices in both the Southern District of New York as well as Connecticut for their professionalism and invaluable assistance in this case.” FBI Special Agent-in-Charge David Sundberg added. “Today’s arrest of city officials including a high ranking, long-time law enforcement officer is a stark reminder that the betrayal of public trust and community members by a public servant is not only unethical but often illegal.
“We recognize these arrests are not a reflection on the Bridgeport Police Department as a whole, but it is our responsibility to root out injustice and corruption by any and all elected and appointed officials entrusted to protect and serve with honor.”
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