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Former G-Man on Ganim’s side

August 9, 2018

BRIDGEPORT — FBI agent puts bad guy behind bars, bad guy does his time, gets released and puts the G-Man on his payroll.

Even in Hollywood, that story line might be rejected as too unbelievable. But this is Bridgeport, where a mayor convicted of corruption got re-elected and is now running for governor.

And so, for two-and-a-half years, retired FBI Agent Edward Adams has been working for returned Mayor Joe Ganim, the man Adams helped convict in 2003 of running a pay-to-play operation out of City Hall. Adams earns $91,800 a year handling a variety of duties as a mayoral aide, including letting the ex-felon mayor and staff know if they ever cross an ethical line — something Adams claimed he has not had to do with Ganim.

“He’s not cutting corners or doing favors or anything like that,” Adams said.

Adams’ municipal employment has become a gubernatorial campaign talking point for Ganim. Granted a second chance in 2015 by Bridgeport voters, the mayor is trying to convince fellow Democrats statewide he can be entrusted with running Connecticut.

“(I) have even garnered support from those that were on the opposite side of that corruption investigation,” Ganim recently said on radio station WNPR’s “Where We Live” program, noting “the head investigator” works in Bridgeport City Hall.

“I didn’t personally put him away,” Adams told Hearst Connecticut Media this week. “It was a joint investigation ... of corruption in Bridgeport. And then, of course, it went through the federal court system and a jury found him guilty.”

Joining the team

Adams has been publicly allied with his former perp since the retired federal agent supported the fallen mayor’s successful 2015 comeback campaign. Back then Ganim similarly used Adams’ endorsement to try to blunt attacks on his criminal past.

“There was a bit of disbelief around a lot of it, followed by us overall just asking, ‘Why?’ ” recalled someone who was affiliated three years ago with then-Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, whom Ganim defeated in the 2015 Democratic primary. “If normally a story line like that is too good to be true, it is.”

Adams dismisses his support of Ganim as no big deal, saying, “I firmly believe he’s learned his lesson.”

But what motivated Adams? Did he feel sympathy for his one-time criminal target?

The mayor’s father, George Ganim, for example, has condemned his son’s 2003 conviction and subsequent, nine-year prison sentence — he was released after seven — as “a terrible miscarriage of justice.”

“The evidence that was presented warranted the outcome,” Adams said. “I don’t think he got too harsh a sentence.”

Did Adams come to admire Ganim during the investigation?

“No, I did not admire him. No,” Adams said.

Adams said he had no subsequent contact with Ganim until early 2015, when the mayor reached out and the two men met “on several occasions” to discuss Ganim’s possible comeback campaign.

Adams, of Fairfield, retired from the FBI after 26 years on Dec. 31, 2003. He later opened and still runs a Fairfield-based investigative and security consulting company.

In fact, Adams’ online company biography highlights how he “successfully managed the FBI’s Bridgeport public corruption investigation which resulted in a dozen convictions, including that of the mayor.” Ganim’s name is not mentioned.

Varied duties

Even before he went to work for Ganim, the Adam’s post-G-Man consulting career proved he was not averse to working for people from the other side of the criminal justice system. Adams was part of Danbury-based trash hauler James Galante’s legal team. Galante pleaded guilty in 2008 to racketeering and fraud charges and was sentenced to federal prison.

“Federal prosecutors, FBI agents, they retire, they go and work for the defense,” Adams said.

Still, after Adams backed Ganim in 2015, Michael Wolf, the FBI Special Agent in charge of Connecticut during the Bridgeport investigation, was compelled to write a letter to Hearst stating: “Many investigators and attorneys who worked tirelessly on the Ganim case and prosecution are appalled and dismayed that he may again have the opportunity to victimize the city and its people.”

Wolfe wrote that Adams “was not the lead investigator and did not bear responsibility for making strategic case decisions.”

The returned mayor rewarded Adams and other key supporters with politically appointed city jobs. Ganim and Adams pitched creating a new government accountability office, but the failed proposal had big flaws: The director — presumably Adams — lacked independence and could be fired by the mayor.

According to Ganim’s office, Adams’ responsibilities have since included: Reviewing documents before the mayor signs them; reviewing purchasing procedures; ensuring departments follow policies; handling Freedom of Information Act requests of the mayor’s office; acting as a liaison with the Housing Authority; assessing security within municipal buildings; and special projects, like trying to salvage a widely panned system of new downtown parking meters installed last year.

“Joe wanted me to be part of his administration to make sure ... that he’s doing things right, we’re doing things right,” Adams said.

But there have been recent examples of the mayor abusing his authority — or at the least acting with a sense of entitlement — while running for governor: Campaigning in a city vehicle driven by a police detective; campaigning on city time; getting the superintendent of schools to help criticize his opponent, and promoting two staffers who are also key campaign aides. One of those raises was rescinded after it was reported by Hearst.

“I know he’s got a lot of individuals who think he’s doing a lousy job, whether it be the tax rate or campaigning while working, things like that,” Adams said. “But when you realize how many hours a week he works for the city as mayor, it’s incredible.”

And like many other city staffers hired by Ganim, Adams supports the boss’ desire to move on to higher office, having contributed $2,375 to the mayor’s gubernatorial campaign.

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