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A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted Connecticut Superior Court Judge Daniel E. Brennan Jr. on charges of obstruction of justice, the first time in more than a century that a state jurist has been indicted. Brennan was charged with one count of obstruction of justice, and four counts of providing false statements to an agent. U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Connor and Special Agent Michael T. Wolf announced the prosecution less than an hour after a New Haven grand jury returned the indictment Thursday. News of the action took court personnel by surprise, as media representatives startled state court administrators unaware of the legal action against Brennan. Brennan, 60, of Trumbull, Conn., was indicted for allegedly misleading FBI investigators last year. Brennan’s attorney, Edward Gavin of Sheehan, Sheehan & Gavin in Bridgeport, Conn., said he had not seen the indictment at press time, but believed it “has something to do with Brennan’s relationship with a former client.” The indictment alleges that Brennan misled Federal Bureau of Investigation agents as they investigated William Trudeau, a former client of Brennan’s before he took the bench. After Brennan was sworn in as a judge, Trudeau alleges, Brennan asked for a personal loan of $62,500, but asked Trudeau to conceal their financial arrangement because Trudeau was being sentenced on federal tax and wire fraud charges and Brennan knew his financial dealings would be made public as part of his pre-sentencing probation report. The indictment also alleges that “Trudeau understood from [Brennan that Brennan] would not pay back the loan if he used his influence to assist Trudeau in obtaining a favorable resolution of the federal criminal case against him.” On Feb. 6, 2001, Trudeau allegedly gave Brennan a check for $10,000, and had numerous other meetings to present him with additional payments. Unknown to Brennan, Trudeau was working with federal authorities and was wearing a secret tape recording device. If convicted, Brennan faces a maximum of 10 years in prison on the obstruction of justice charge and five years’ imprisonment on each of the false statement charges. In a prepared statement, Connecticut Chief Court Administrator Joseph Pellegrino said only that, “as with anyone accused of a crime, Brennan is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.” O’Connor said there is “no ongoing investigation” related to the Brennan indictment, and that “there is no ongoing federal investigation of any other judge of the Connecticut Superior Court.” The embattled jurist is not new to controversy. In 1999, fellow Republican Gov. John Rowland appointed him to the bench. But his confirmation was clouded by revelations that he was convicted of forgery in 1961, when he was 18 years old. Despite the conviction, Brennan was endorsed for the bench unanimously by the state Senate. Gavin denied that his client had done anything wrong. While news reports said the judge allegedly was given an opportunity to plead guilty to the counts earlier this year, and refused to so, Gavin said no such incident happened. Meanwhile, Gavin was reluctant to comment further on the allegations. “I have not seen the indictment,” Gavin said. “We look forward to reviewing the information and allegations of the government.” He said he expects Brennan to be presented in federal court this week. Brennan was last active on the bench in June of 2002. He has a cardiac condition, and has applied to the judicial department for a disability retirement. In the meantime, he has effectively been out on paid sick leave for the last 15 months. Spokespersons for the state Judicial Department said judges are constitutional officers, and as such are not limited to the amount of paid sick time they may take. Before being elevated to the bench, he was a civil and criminal defense attorney in Bridgeport, and once served as chairman of the Connecticut Bar Association’s litigation section.

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