Former Conn. Power Broker Liable In P.E. Kickback Scheme

May 31 2007 | 11:24am ET

In Connecticut, corruption is a bipartisan matter. The former majority leader of the State Senate, a Democrat, has been found liable in a kickback scheme involving a private equity firm orchestrated by the state’s former treasurer, a Republican.

A New Haven, Conn., jury found William DiBella and his consulting firm North Cove Ventures liable for aiding and abetting former Treasurer Paul Silvester, who was convicted in 1999 of allocating some $500 million in state pension funds to p.e. firms for kickbacks. According to the SEC, Silvester arranged for DiBella to be paid a percentage of the state’s $75 million investment with Washington, D.C.-based Thayer Capital Partners, though he did no work for the firm. All told, DiBella received some $374,500 from the p.e. firm.

DiBella has asked Judge Ellen Bree Burns to overturn the jury verdict; she is expected to rule on his motion sometime this summer.

The kickback scandal, which broke in 1998 and led to Silvester’s defeat in that year’s election, tarnished the reputation of many in the state’s political hierarchy, including then-Gov. John Rowland, though he was never officially accused of any wrongdoing. His resignation and later conviction resulted from an unrelated corruption case.

DiBella, though he has left the State Senate, remains chairman of the Metropolitan District Commission, which oversees the Hartford area’s water and sewage systems. A no-confidence motion by Republicans on the MDC last week failed, and DiBella says he will not resign before Burns rules on his motion. But he acknowledged to the Hartford Courant that, while he would appeal should Burns rule against him, “quite frankly at that time, it’s more than likely I would resign as chairman.”

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