Connecticut mayor dodges huge taco delivery

January 27, 2012

By Mary Ellen Godin

(Reuters) – Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. got what he asked for.

Two days after Maturo sparked a national firestorm for his “I might have tacos” quip when several of his town’s police officers were charged by federal authorities with harassing Latinos, immigration advocates sent 500 tacos to his office for lunch on Thursday.

Maturo, though, ducked out the backdoor shortly before the delivery arrived. The group, Reform Immigration America, left him a single symbolic taco and donated the rest to a soup kitchen.

In a statement issued later, Maturo said he would work on the challenges facing his town.

“The abundance of tacos that we received today underscores the importance of the issues currently facing the town of East Haven and highlights the need for the town to continue the process of healing and reform that I initiated immediately upon taking office,” Maturo said.

An FBI investigation triggered by complaints from the Latino community resulted in the arrests on Tuesday of four East Haven police officers on charges of racial profiling, excessive force and conspiracy against Latinos.

When a reporter asked Maturo how he might repair relations with Latinos, he replied, “I might have tacos when I go home.”

One of the four men charged, Officer Jason Zullo, was released on bail of $250,000 on Thursday. He was banned from returning to East Haven and ordered confined to his home, justice officials said.

The other three defendants had been released earlier on bail ranging from $100,000 to $300,000, with varying terms, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut said.

Zullo along with officers Dennis Spaulding and David Cari and Sergeant John Miller were indicted on suspicion of routinely injuring, threatening and intimidating Latinos with false arrests, false reports and harassment.

Known as “Miller’s boys,” they are accused of extending their conduct to anyone who complained about their behavior, including fellow police officers and members of the East Haven Police Commission.

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