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PHANTOM LAWN SIGNS

Complaint Filed Against Gerratana for Paying Wife

Republican Town Committee Chairman Peter Steele has filed a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission alleging that Greg Gerratana, a candidate for tax collector, paid his wife with campaign money for lawn signs that were never purchased during his failed bid two years ago.

While recently reviewing town committee reports GOP leaders came across a document from Gerratana’s last campaign that they describe as peculiar. That document was a campaign finance disclosure form dated October 2009 and reviewed at the Town Clerk’s office, where municipal filings are kept.

Gerratana began raising funds in July 2009 and ended up with close to $12,000 by the end of the summer. He is on the Democratic ticket again next month.

GOP leaders find fault with the disclosure that Gerratana paid $2,126 for lawn signs that were never put up because he ended his campaign. The money, which was taken from the roughly $11,400 he collected that year, was paid to RDJ Holding, which had an address listed in South Attleboro, Mass.

“Almost 70 percent of the funds collected during this campaign, which incidentally was abandoned due to illegal use of state computers and the controversy surrounding his actions during the summer of ’09, were expended to this company that does not even exist in the State of Massachusetts,” the complaint reads. “Repeated attempts to find this company were unsuccessful through various methods.”

In the complaint, Steele contends that RDJ Holdings was “just a front” for Total Graphic Solutions, LLC. The company’s principal is Gerratana’s wife, Jessica and is operated out of the couple’s home on Brookside Road. The company was registered with the Secretary of State’s Commercial recording division in January 2008.

Steele noted that many other Democratic

candidates in New Britain also used this company for their printing and mailing needs.

Paying his wife with funds that came from his campaign is a “direct violation” of a section of Connecticut law dealing with political committees, Steele stated. The treasurer of Gerratana’s committee was Maryanne Wysocki, according to the filings.

The going rate for an election sign is around $3, local candidates say, meaning the check Gerratana wrote would have brought in more than 700 signs for his bid as Tax Collector. “The number of signs he purchased was out of the league for the position he was running for,” one source who has extensive knowledge of the filings said.

Sources say candidates that year, including former Mayor Tim Stewart, didn’t purchase more than 500 signs while Gerratana never put up a sign since he had halted his campaign in light of misconduct using state computers.

GOP leaders say the possible misconduct highlights the election abuse that often takes place at the local level, as the filings are rarely reviewed. The filings for candidates who are running for state office are available online, while local filings are stored away in a cardboard box at City Hall.

“He is not the kind of person that can be trusted with taxpayers’ dollars,” Steele said in an interview. “How can the people of New Britain trust what a person like him will do with access to citizens’ information in City Hall?”

The SEEC filing shows that Gerrantana reported $250 in expenditures to “RDJ Wholesale Grocer” and “JDR Transportation,” both of which list the same address as the RDJ Holding LCC location of Roddy Avenue in S. Attleboro, Mass. In the description for the JDR Transportation, the 11 Roddy Avenue address is listed but given as being in the state of Rhode Island.

During Gerratana’s 2009 campaign, a reporter at the “New Britain Herald” traced disparaging remarks against then Mayor Timothy Stewart and his family to an IP address pointing to a computer at the state Capitol. The reporter revealed that the source of the remarks came from Gerratana, then a staffer for Rep. Tim O’Brien. Gerratana was suspended from his position for a week without pay and was called upon to resign by O’Brien since his actions didn’t uphold to his values.

According to his profile on the website newbritaindemocrat.org, which states that it is mostly maintained by Democratic Town Committee Chairman John McNamara, Gerratana said his goals as Tax Collector are to offer “transparency and streamlining government.”

When confronted on these allegations, Gerratana refused comment.

(Read page 5  for more information on this story)