N E W HA V E N, Conn., July 27, 2001 -- Waterbury Mayor Philip Giordano, wholost last year's U.S. Senate race to incumbent Joseph Lieberman,has been arrested on federal sex charges involving a minor.
Giordano, 38, was ordered held without bond following a briefappearance Thursday in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport. He was chargedwith using an interstate facility to entice a minor to engage insexual activity and conspiracy to commit that offense.
Investigators said there was more than one alleged victim underage 16, but the charges lodged Thursday involved one youth.
The Hartford Courant, citing sources it did not identify,reported the alleged sexual misconduct involved two girls, 9 and11.
"The conduct in which Mr. Giordano is charged today isdisgraceful," said Michael Wolf, special agent in charge of theFBI.
Wolf said the investigation began after they received reportsthat Giordano, who is married and has three children, was "havinginappropriate sex."
IRS Involved, Too
The FBI, state prosecutors and the Internal Revenue Service saidtheir investigations are continuing and may lead to more charges.U.S. District Judge Alan Nevas sealed the arrest warrant affidavitat Giordano's request.
Investigators would not elaborate on what they meant by"interstate facility" and an IRS agent would not comment on herpart of the investigation.
To be a federal offense, the crime must be committed acrossstate lines by such methods as travel, Internet, the telephone ormail.
If convicted, Giordano faces up to 10 years in prison and a$250,000 fine. He was due back in court on Tuesday.
WVIT-TV, citing "highly placed sources in the city" it did notidentify, said Giordano's arrest stemmed from a broaderinvestigation into alleged payoffs for city towing contracts andconstruction project kickbacks.
The FBI also executed search warrants on the offices of ThomasAriola, the city's acting finance director. His lawyer, MartinMinella, told the station that four search warrants were issuedinvolving Ariola, and that his client was cooperating with theinvestigation.
Call for Resignation
The Courant reported that investigators in the midst of thecorruption probe discovered evidence of alleged sexual misconductand hastily sought a warrant for Giordano's arrest to protect thechildren. The scope and precise nature of the corruptioninvestigation remains unknown.
Gov. John G. Rowland, like Giordano a Republican from Waterbury,called for the mayor to resign immediately.
"Stepping down is the right thing to do for the city and hisfamily," Rowland said in a news release.
The U.S. attorney's office asked that Giordano be held withoutbail, arguing he was a danger to the community and might flee fromthe charges.
The state Department of Children and Families, which aided inthe investigation, said the alleged victims are receivingassistance.
"If the allegations in fact are true, this is a huge violationof the public's trust and of the trust of these children," DCFCommissioner Kristine Ragaglia said.
Scandal Adds to City's Woes
The three-term mayor announced last week he would not seek afourth, two-year term. He said he wanted to spend more time withhis family.
Giordano was first elected mayor in 1995. He also was a state lawmaker.
FBI agents weresearching Giordano's office Thursday morning and interviewing CityHall employees. Repeated calls to the mayor's office and to hisspokesman were not returned.
His lawyer, federal public defender Thomas Dennis, also did notreturn repeated telephone calls to his Hartford office.
The arrest comes as Waterbury grapples with a state takeover ofits finances and an estimated $60 million deficit. State overseersearlier this year approved a budget that includes a 30 percentproperty tax hike and severe cuts in city programs.
Giordano, a Republican, lost to Lieberman, who was also running simultaneously for vice president, by more than 380,000votes and encountered financial problems in the campaign. TheFederal Election Commission threatened to audit Giordano's campaignfinances.