Former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim, who served seven years in federal prison after having been convicted on municipal corruption charges, has cleared a major hurdle in his attempt to regain his law license.
The Standing Committee on Recommendations for Admission to the Bar in Fairfield County on Tuesday issued a report saying that Ganim has completed all the steps required by a judge and that committee members believe he is “presently fit to practice law.” A three-judge panel appointed by Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers will make the final ruling on Ganim’s application for reinstatement.
Ganim, who is currently working as a paralegal at his family’s The Ganim Law Firm in Bridgeport, was convicted of 16 counts of racketeering, conspiracy, extortion, mail fraud, bribery and filing false income tax returns. He was sentenced July 1, 2003 and released from prison on July 19, 2010.
Last year, Ganim formally filed his bar readmission application. He was ordered to complete a minimum of 12 hours of continuing legal education, at least six of which had to be in professional responsibility. He had to pay all fines and make restitution stemming from his conviction. And he had to complete at least 100 hours of community service.
The Fairfield County standing committee, made up of five attorneys and headed by Douglas P. Mahoney, of Bridgeport’s Tremont & Sheldon, said Ganim did, in fact, complete the CLE, pay $150,000 in fines and complete the community service.
The committee held four hearings on Ganim’s application between May 2011 and March 2012. Ganim was represented by attorney Harold L. Rosnick. Also in attendance was Patricia King, who is now the chief disciplinary counsel for the state. Thirteen witnesses testified on Ganim’s behalf, including veteran attorneys, Bridgeport business owners, a church pastor and family members.
One attorney called Ganim a “wonderful, delightful, decent, honest guy.” Another Bridgeport attorney, Frank Riccio, called Ganim a gentleman and said he trust the former mayor “as much as my own son.”
A federal probation officer, Chris Rogers, said he saw no reason why Ganim should be barred from practicing law. “I mean, he has done everything that I have asked him, had no issues with him. So he has been compliant, no issues,” Rogers testified, according to the committee report.
King, however, objected to Ganim’s reinstatement. She noted a web site on which Ganim offered himself up as a “federal prison consultant.”
“What happened to me should never happen to you or anyone,” the web site read, as of October 2011. It went onto offer help from someone who has “survived the onslaught.”
“In October of 2001, I was targeted and indicted by the Federal Government on various white collar crimes,” the web site read. Ganim suggested that he was “wrongly” charged.
King said the language, which has since been changed, suggested that Ganim is not remorseful for the acts that landed him in prison. Ganim responded by saying: “I had a fair trial, I had good lawyers, I had a fair judge and I live and stand by the result, I accept the verdict, I was found guilty. I accept that, I acknowledge that. I took an appeal, I lost.”
The Fairfield County committee recommended that Ganim be reinstated when his federal supervised release ends in July 2013. Ganim has promised to complete 1,800 hours of pro bono work in his first year if readmitted. The committee also recommended that Ganim be supervised by a court-appointed attorney for one year.