Friday, September 07, 2007

Chief Details Contacts With DeLuca


STATE SEN. MARTIN LOONEY, D-New Haven, left, Sen. Andrew Roraback, R-Goshen, and Sen. Tony Guglielmo, R-Stafford, find a light moment Thursday afternoon before a meeting at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford of a special committee considering whether to expel Sen. Louis DeLuca, R-Woodbury, from office. (MAC-YVES REGIS I / September 6, 2007)

By CHRISTOPHER KEATING | Capitol Bureau Chief THE HARTFORD COURANT
September 7, 2007

Waterbury's police chief says he saw Sen. Louis DeLuca at least 20 times over a two-year period, and DeLuca never once mentioned that his granddaughter was being abused.

Chief Neil M. O'Leary made that disclosure in a letter released Thursday by a special committee that is considering whether to expel DeLuca from the state Senate after he pleaded guilty to conspiring to threaten his grandson-in-law because he believed his granddaughter was being abused.

O'Leary had already said publicly that he had met several times with DeLuca and his family members regarding the relationship between Casey Reilly Colella and her husband, Mark Vincent Colella. But the 13-point letter provides more details about O'Leary's conversations with DeLuca.

Committee members said the recollections of O'Leary and DeLuca are important as senators try to determine exactly what happened in the time leading up to the threats against Colella, who has repeatedly denied abusing his wife. DeLuca, R-Woodbury, has publicly stated that he sought assistance from Danbury trash hauler James Galante only after being turned away by the Waterbury police because his granddaughter refused to file a complaint against Colella.

Galante is awaiting trial on 93 criminal counts in a racketeering indictment that is based partly on FBI wiretaps conducted during an investigation of mob ties to the state's garbage-hauling industry. During an initial meeting in a diner in 2005 before Galante was indicted, DeLuca had asked for Galante's help in threatening Colella.

"After speaking with Senator DeLuca in the spring of 2005, I saw him at least 20 times over the course of the next two years," O'Leary wrote in a three-page letter. "During that time, Senator DeLuca never raised the issue of Casey Reilly Colella and her relationship with her family, and I did not feel it would be appropriate to bring the issue up because Senator DeLuca had been so distraught in discussing the matter on prior occasions."

DeLuca, who could not be reached for comment Thursday night, said recently that he still disagrees with O'Leary's recollections of their conversations.

In another development, the committee released a letter from the Waterbury city attorney's office that said police received an anonymous complaint after DeLuca's guilty plea on the misdemeanor charge on June 4.

Colella has told The Courant that Waterbury police arrived at his home after an anonymous complaint alleged that his wife was suffering from physical abuse. The police arrived, questioned both Colella and his wife separately, and then checked Casey for bruises, Colella said. The police then left. O'Leary had previously declined to comment on Colella's account, but the letter from the city attorney's office mentioned the complaint made in the case.

"The allegations which were investigated were found to be unsubstantiated," attorney Janis M. Small wrote in the letter to the Senate committee. "The police report regarding this investigation is, therefore, exempt from disclosure" under state law that blocks public release of uncorroborated allegations.

The disclosures did not cause any immediate reaction from the committee because Sen. Andrew Roraback, R-Goshen, the committee co-chairman, said that committee members should not comment in the same way that a judge should not comment on a case after the first day of a trial.

In his own letter, O'Leary said he has known DeLuca and his family for most of his life because he attended school with DeLuca's children in their hometown of Woodbury. Two of Casey Reilly's aunts - Mary Beth Mecca and Sharon Reilly - asked to meet with O'Leary in January 2005 to discuss Casey's relationship with Colella, but they never mentioned abuse, O'Leary said. He also described talking with DeLuca during the St. Patrick's Day parade in the Washington Hill section of Waterbury in 2005.

"I next saw Senator DeLuca in April or May of 2005, and he advised me that not only was Casey Reilly Colella living with Mark Colella, he also learned that they were secretly married and that she was also pregnant," O'Leary wrote. "Senator DeLuca expressed extreme displeasure with this relationship. Senator DeLuca never indicated to me during the course of this conversation that he felt Casey Reilly Colella was in an abusive relationship."

The six-member committee's next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 20 at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

Contact Christopher Keating at ckeating@courant.com.

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[click here] for my letter to State Senator Anthony Guglielmo and the Washington DC FBI

[click here] for post on how official Connecticut abuses families and children

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