Shelton developer sues alderman candidate for defamation

SHELTON — A local developer has filed a defamation lawsuit against a Third Ward alderman candidate for comments made in a letter published in The Shelton Herald and on social media.

Primrose Companies, owned by Shelton resident John Guedes, filed the suit against Matt McGee on Oct. 7, stating the alderman candidate made libelous comments about the developer in an opinion piece published in the weekly newspaper, one of more than a dozen Hearst Connecticut Media Group publications, including a “false statement that (Primrose) had a property foreclosed on then bought it back from the city.”

According to the lawsuit, McGee’s statement erroneously suggested Primrose was engaged in a “pay-to-play” scheme with local politicians. McGee’s comments were then followed up with a Facebook post that reiterated his accusations, according to the lawsuit.

McGee, who is running for election in the Third Ward and is endorsed by the Shelton Democratic Town Committee and Envision Shelton, declined to comment about the lawsuit.

The suit states Primrose suffered damage to its reputation because of the statements, and McGee has failed to retract the comments.

“(Guedes) and other developers in Shelton were upset about the things (McGee) said,” attorney Stephen Bellis, who represents Primrose, said in an interview with Hearst Connecticut Media. “They all play by the rules … they have put in a significant amount of money; they’ve taken the risks and they get slandered.”

Bellis said McGee has suggested that developers were operating in an illegal fashion, “none of which was done,” he said.

“If (McGee) has any evidence, come forward with it,” Bellis said. “What he has stated has no basis in fact.”

Guedes, known for his redevelopments of the old factory buildings along Canal Street, has stated he has invested more than $33 million for just what is completed or in progress along Canal Street, starting with The Birmingham on the River condominium.

In the years since, Guedes has completed the Canal Street Lofts, the former Spongex site with 47 units, and the Riverside Retail Center, formerly the Rolfite site, with a new restaurant and an optometrist moving into the first-floor commercial space.