Duff chal­lenger cries foul

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - News - By Robert Koch

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.


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