A three-judge panel has overturned five felony corruption convictions against former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez, paving the way for new trials.
The decision came down Monday morning.
Perez was convicted of bribery and extortion charges in 2010. He was found guilty of taking a $20,000 bribe in kitchen and bath improvements from a city contractor and for trying to extort money from a developer.
In February, his lawyers argued the judge in his trial improperly combined the bribery and extortion charges.
On Monday, the panel agreed and said the judgement was reversed and new, separate trials should be held on the bribery and extortion charges.
The three-judge panel said they reversed those convictions because Perez's constitutional rights were violated.
"My family and I are very happy, we expected it to go this way," Perez told Eyewitness News.
Perez got a three-year sentence. However, he remained free on bond and quietly celebrated this victory at an insurance business.
"Today's a good day. We're going to celebrate today and wait and see what the future holds," Perez said. "I gotta consult with my attorney, but we're going to have a good Christmas."
Hartford lawyer Michael Georgetti helped Eyewitness News analyze Monday's decision
"The [former] mayor will be able to testify in the bribery case as he indicated he wanted to and then to not testify in the corruption case as he indicated he wanted to," Georgetti said.
Georgetti said Monday's decision was a win for Perez.
"Absolutely, the state is now going to have to put both cases on or choose one case. In all likelihood, they'll have to go with the one they think is stronger," Georgetti said." And witnesses have to come back and testify. It's been three to four years. Are they still around? Did anything happen to them? A lot of things could work to his advantage."
Officials with the Office of the Chief State's Attorney said they are "reviewing the decision" at this time and could not comment further.
However, state officials said they intend to prosecute these crimes either through an appeal to the Supreme Court or by retrial in accordance with Monday's decision.
Eyewitness News also heard back from Carlos Costa's attorney, who said he's happy for Perez, wishes him well and hopes they don't have to go back.
To read the decision, click here.
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