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Judge Denies Earl O'Garro's Motion to Dismiss, Clears Way for Trial

Jeff Cohen
Earl O'Garro outside Hartford's federal courthouse earlier this year.

A federal judge denied a motion to dismiss an indictment against former insurance executive Earl O'Garro Monday, clearing the way for trial to begin in December.

O'Garro once ran Hybrid Insurance. But after news broke that he hadn't paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in insurance premiums on the city's behalf, federal agents got interested. Eventually, prosecutors charged O'Garro and said he defrauded the city of Hartford, the state, and others. 

In court Monday, Tracy Hayes, O'Garro's attorney, argued that the "media storm" that surrounded his client was omnipresent and unavoidable. As a result, he argued that the grand jury process that led to O'Garro's initial indictment was tainted.

"There was no way to have a fair grand jury process," Hayes told the court. "This gentleman was in the spotlight."

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Avi Perry countered that the process was fair and impartial. He noted that the members of the grand jury had even been asked whether they had heard of O'Garro. No one had.  

After an hour of argument, U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Thompson denied O'Garro's motion to dismiss.  He told the lawyers that, in his experience, jurors are rarely affected by publicity.  In explaining his decision, Thompson said that while people who write articles may hope that "the whole world reads it," that isn't what usually happens. 

Jeff Cohen started in newspapers in 2001 and joined Connecticut Public in 2010, where he worked as a reporter and fill-in host. In 2017, he was named news director. Then, in 2022, he became a senior enterprise reporter.

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