Duff challenger cries foul
A Republican running for the state Senate believes politics are behind the release of a police report and court document detailing his drunken-driving arrest nearly five years ago.
Marc D’Amelio, who is running for the 25th District seat, said police improperly released their report of the incident after he had successfully completed an accelerated rehabilitation program. He suspects Democrats are behind the release of the report and of a court transcript regarding his request to participate in the program.
“Political bashing is alive and well in Norwalk, and no one is asking me about my opinion on the issues and what I plan to do,” D’Amelio said. “They’re more interested in bashing me, my family and my reputation. I’ve already taken responsibility five years ago. We pay our debt.”
D’Amelio is hoping to unseat Bob Duff, a Norwalk Democrat and state Senate majority leader, in the Nov. 6 election.
Asked Friday about the release of the report and court record, Duff said, “I had nothing to do with that. That’s between him and the city.”
Mayor Harry Rilling, a Democrat and the city’s former police chief, said Friday he had no idea when the records were released or who requested them.
“This is the first I’m hearing about this,” Rilling said. “If they were released inappropriately, then we are going to have to find out why and who made the mistake.”
D’Amelio was arrested Jan. 11, 2014, on South Main Street for driving drunk with his then-9-year-old daughter in the car in the front seat and three strangers whom he had picked up at a bodega in the back seat. He allegedly told officers he was driving around South Norwalk, handing out his winnings from Mohegan Sun casino, to teach his daughter a lesson on helping the less fortunate.
He applied for and was granted accelerated rehabilitation, which entailed maintaining a clean record for nine months. The charges were later dismissed in state Superior Court in Norwalk
At issue now, according to D’Amelio and his attorney, Mark Sherman, is the release of the police report and the court record to the news website Nancy on Norwalk.
Sherman related his concerns to Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik, who responded in a Sept. 10 email that stated the information “was released in error.”
“Our records systems checked through everything and found that the computer system had one charge still pending,” Kulhawik wrote. “After reviewing your paperwork and reviewing the court info, they confirmed that after two years that charge was also dismissed, so the report was released in error. Our apologies for that.”
The police chief said he asked Nancy Chapman to return the report “as it was released in error and in essence should not exist. She refused the request,” Kulhawik wrote to Hearst Connecticut Media.
As of 6 p.m. Friday, Nancy on Norwalk had not published a story on the issue.
Kulhawik said Friday the report had been redacted, “but one charge we had listed as guilty was also dismissed but mislabeled in our computer.”
“As a result, a redacted version was released, when in fact the report in its entirety should have been withheld,” the police chief said. “It was human error in coding the dismissal when it was received from the court some time later.”
Sherman, in a Sept. 7 email to Chapman, said the reports released to her were dismissed, erased and expunged on March 24, 2016. He attached a copy of Connecticut statutes, which he said allows D’Amelio “to swear under oath that he’s never been arrested, meaning that any new publication of an erased arrest is libelous.”
On Sept. 25, Chapman emailed D’Amelio, attaching a transcript of D’Amelio’s court appearance as part of his accelerated rehabilitation request, and asked for comment.
D’Amelio said he believes Democratic Councilman Douglas Stern, an attorney running for judge of probate in Norwalk Wilton Probate Court, requested and obtained the transcript.
Asked Friday about the transcript, Stern said,“I don’t have that transcript. I really don’t have a comment. It’s public record. I was aware of the incident just hanging around the court house, but that’s really all I have to say about it.”
The Norwalk Superior Court reporter’s office on Friday confirmed a transcript involving the case was ordered. The office said it was not allowed to disclose who ordered it or when it was ordered.