Conn., February 5, 2015 — The U.S. Department of Justice and
representatives of five federal law enforcement agencies announced this
week the establishment of a public corruption task force in the State of
Connecticut. The task force will investigate corrupt public officials,
the misuse of public funds and related criminal activity. DOJ Feb 4 – Task Force Announcement
Some state officials have suggested that the task force’s first order
of business should be to address problems with fraud and corruption in
the State’s family courts. According to the Connecticut Judicial Review
Council’s website, the 25 member committee has fielded tens of thousands
of complaints filed by consumers against Connecticut judges, however,
fewer than than 11 judges have been subject to public disciplinary
hearings since the 1980’s.
“Public servants are entrusted by all of us to act in the best
interests of the public they serve. It is important for the United
States to bring to justice those who betray that trust,” said FBI
Special Agent in Charge Patricia M. Ferrick. “Public corruption at all
levels of local, state, and federal government must not be tolerated,
and this task force will leverage the best assets of the task force
partner agencies to address the threat posed by corrupt public
According to a press release sent out by U.S. Attorney Deirdre M.
Daly, the Connecticut Public Corruption Task Force is a joint initiative
which includes representatives from the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, United States Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue
Service Criminal Investigation Division, and the Inspector General’s
Offices of the United States Department of Health and Human Services and
the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The announcement comes on the heals of several recent State
legislative hearings, during which hundreds of Connecticut families
claimed to have been victimized by corrupt public officials working
within the State’s courts and the Department of Children and Families.
During a recent hearing before the Connecticut State Legislature’s
Judicial Committee, State Representative Minnie Gonzalez (D-Hartford)
and 17 other State legislators cited dishonesty and corruption as a
reason why they opposed Judge Stephen Frazzini’s reappointment to the
State Court bench.
On January 23, Rep. Gonzalez questioned Judge Frazzini about his
membership in the state chapter of the Association of Family and
Conciliation Court. The controversial trade association and vendor to
the judicial branch was founded by Connecticut family court
administrators, judges, and the professionals who appear before them in
Specifically, Rep. Gonzalez asked Frazzini whether he should have
recused himself from hearing a controversial case during which he issued
a gag order against the Connecticut Law Tribune. He did this at the
request of the mother’s attorney, AFCC member Stephen Dembo, and at the
recommendation of CT AFCC founding board member Susan Cousineau, the
guardian ad litem assigned to the case.
Days later, Frazzini issued an order sua esponte, effectively
reversing his own decision after the Connecticut Supreme Court agreed to
hear the Tribune’s appeal as to whether the ban was a violation of the
publication’s First Amendment rights.
In response to Gonzalez’s question, Frazzini testified that he was
not a member of the CT AFCC, that he has never attended a meeting, that
he doesn’t know the chapter’s membership, and that he did not
whether a local chapter had “gotten off the ground.”
Yet according to documentation filed with the Secretary of State’s
Office in 2013, founding board members of the CT AFCC include some of
Frazzini’s close colleagues, including former Chief Family Court
Administrative Judges Lynda Munro and Judge Gerard Adelman,
and Frazzini’s coworkers Judge Holly Abery-Wetstone, Court Support
Services Division (CSSD) Regional Managers Debra Kulak and Phyllis
Cummings-Texeira, and Court Operations Manager Marilou Giovannucci.
Less than a week later, Frazzini issued a letter to the legislature
recanting this testimony and admitting that he had made a payment to
his co-worker’s corporation in 2012, but since then has paid dues only
to the national AFCC organization.
“I placed a call to the national AFCC in
Chicago this morning and was advised that my payment of dues to the
national organization has also included membership dues for the
Connecticut chapter of the AFCC.”
Connecticut taxpayer Michael Nowacki
, who opposed Frazzini’s reappointment to the bench says Frazzini is not telling the truth.
What is amazing is that Frazzini lies again in the letter when he
said he contacted the national organization in Chicago,” says Nowacki.
“The AFCC headquarters are in Madison, Wisconsin.”
Nowacki also points out that the CT AFCC did not receive a tax
identification number from the IRS until 2014, nearly two years after
Frazzini started sending money to his coworker’s company. More
importantly, Nowacki wonders whether the DOJ’s new task force will be
able to discover who else has paid the CT AFCC, how the judge’s company
has spent their money, and whether the company’s proprietors have
complied with the law.
Last year, Nowacki was one of nearly 100 parents with open family
court cases who courageously testified before the legislature that they
were victimized by predatory court professionals, many of whom were AFCC
affiliates allegedly engaged in case rigging, healthcare scams, false
billing scams, mortgage fraud, extortion, and other types of misconduct
through the State’s publicly funded programs and services.
For now, U.S. Attorney Daly is crediting “dogged journalists,” as
well as courageous politicians and members of the public for coming
forward with valuable information about the corruption in the state, and
has encouraged citizens to report corrupt activity by calling into a
hotline that was recently established by the agency for this purpose.
We cannot overstate the importance of citizen participation in our
fight against corruption, and we urge all citizens to assist us in this
Communities Digital News investigative reporter Anne Stevenson has
lead that “dogged media” effort, reporting on this issue in more than 30
articles on corruption in the courts for Communities Digital News since early 2013.
Sources tell Communities Digital News that Stevenson’s article, Dying for custody (Part 1): DOJ announces investigation into Connecticut court programs
, helped to increase awareness of the situation to the DOJ.
“Anne Stevenson’s efforts to shine a light on the corruption in the
court system should be applauded,” says Jacquie Kubin, President of
Communities Digital News. “Her work has brought many chilling and
unacceptable situations that have harmed American families under the
bright light of independent media.”
The DOJ was asked for a comment on Stevenson’s article, but they
let their reference to “dogged media” stand. Stevenson’s body of work
stands to show that she has “barking rights” to exposing the mistruths
and mis-justices being perpetuated by the Connecticut courts.
“I have been moved by the individual stories of the families and the
harm they have suffered at the hands of the courts,” Stevenson says.
“The stories of greed and miscarriages of justice, many that have
gravely harmed children and parents, are heartbreaking.”