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The town of Avon is paying more than $11K to keep one document secret

Sastre says that when he first began filing FOI requests he spent hours writing formal complaint letters. Now he generally forwards an email where his request for information was denied to the Freedom of Information Commission with a just a brief explanation.
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public
Case records describe the lengthy public records dispute over whether the town of Avon must disclose a document that would shed light on its former police chief's retirement.

The town of Avon has spent more than $11,500 of taxpayer money in a legal battle to keep one document out of public hands.

In 2018, a town employee in Avon spent more than a year observing and documenting the work of police Chief Mark Rinaldo into an 11-page report. Rinaldo was placed on leave and then retired a few months later in 2019.

When a Farmington resident requested access to the document through the Freedom of Information Act, the town declined, arguing it was protected by attorney-client privilege.

Since then, Avon has twice refused to make the document public, appealing the Freedom of Information Commission’s decision in November 2021 and again when its appeal was dismissed by New Britain Superior Court in September 2022.

Connecticut Public reached out to Avon Town Manager Brandon Robertson and the former police chief, but both declined to comment.

The document remains secret while the third appeal is being processed. Ongoing legal representation for the town will cost $270 per hour, records show.

Read more in the latest edition of The Accountability Project's monthly newsletter, The Reporter's Notebook.

Samuel Pappas is the Fall 2022 Gwen Ifill Integrity in Journalism Intern. He assists the Accountability Project Investigative News Team.
Jim Haddadin is an editor for The Accountability Project, Connecticut Public's investigative reporting team. He was previously an investigative producer at NBC Boston, and wrote for newspapers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

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