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Board will investigate Ackley ethics complaint against Buscetto

By Jeffrey A. Johnson

Publication: The Day

Published October 24. 2011 4:00AM   Updated October 24. 2011 3:47PM
The city ethics board will meet tonight to schedule a hearing

New London - The Board of Ethics is scheduled to meet tonight to set a public hearing date on allegations by Police Chief Margaret Ackley that City Councilor Michael Buscetto III violated the city's Code of Ethics.

The board announced over the weekend that it has found probable cause to investigate Ackley's complaint.

Board Chairman K. Robert Lewis said in a press release that the board had voted 6-1 to find that probable cause exists that Buscetto violated the city's Code of Ethics.

Ackley filed a formal complaint against Buscetto following closed-door meetings of the City Council in which her retirement contract was discussed. She asked at the time that Buscetto recuse himself from the closed discussion because she alleged that Buscetto had interfered with her management of the police department.

Ackley also has said she may sue the city over Buscetto's conduct. In a letter to the Board of Ethics, Buscetto maintained that Ackley gave no explanation for why he should recuse himself and that he had no financial or personal interest in the matter.

The hearing will be conducted much like a court case, according to Lewis. Both sides will be able to present witnesses.

"I fully expected this. I actually requested that everything be made public," Buscetto said Sunday. "Now I will have the opportunity for the first time for people to hear my side of the story."

In his letter to the Board of Ethics, Buscetto also argued that he had the right to defend the allegations against him. He also said he did not have the opportunity to vote on Ackley's retirement contract.

Ackley signed a retirement agreement in April with the city manager and said Buscetto was causing her "ongoing distress" by meddling in police affairs. In a letter to the city attorney, Thomas Londregan, Ackley's lawyer, Shelley Graves, said her client had a basis for a lawsuit based on gender discrimination and harassment.

Ackley did not respond Sunday to an email request for comment. According to a news release from the board Saturday, Ackley and Buscetto had 14 days to reach a settlement on the matter but failed to do so by the Thursday deadline. A hearing must now be scheduled within the next 90 days.

When it meets tonight at 7 at the New London Public Library, the board is scheduled to discuss the hearing procedure and choose a date and location.

"Everything is transparent and the hearings will be public," Lewis said. "It's our desire to have them in the Council chambers so that it can be taped and televised. If people have an interest, they should be able to see what's going on."

jeff.johnson@theday.com

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