State House candidate files $1.5M civil rights complaint against Shelton mayor, city

Photo of Brian Gioiele

SHELTON — State House hopeful Ethan Book has filed a civil rights complaint against the city, its mayor and police chief seeking $1.5 million for what he said was negligence and a conspiracy to keep politically sensitive information out of his hands during two of his political campaigns.

Book, a Republican who is making his fourth attempt to unseat incumbent Democrat Chris Rosario in the 128th House district, filed the complaint in U.S. District Court on Sept. 15 against Mayor Mark Lauretti, police Chief Shawn Sequeira, city Administrative Assistant Jack Bashar and the city itself.

“My filing of the lawsuit is my reaction to say ‘Enough is enough,’” Book said. “It’s time to draw a line in the sand. I seek a court judgment which would shift the political posturing and also seek reasonable monetary damages. What I seek in money damages is certainly not unreasonable.”

Book’s complaint makes four claims focusing on the city’s failure to provide information he requested through the Freedom of Information Act in a timely manner. He alleges that he specifically requested information on Sequeira’s hiring, timesheets and overtime documents from 2016-18; and timesheet and overtime data for retired Deputy Chief George Rodrigues from 2015-18; and Rosario’s work hours.

Rosario has a part-time civilian position in the Shelton Police Department. He was first elected in 2014 to represent the 128th House district, which includes Bridgeport’s East End and Hollow neighborhoods.

Book, a Bridgeport resident, also claims the city failed to properly preserve or produce requested video from the camera pointed at the time clock at police headquarters. Book alleges that he had requested video from October 2018 to April 2019 displaying the time clock.

“The claims involve much more than mere willful negligence,” Book told Hearst Connecticut Media. “They also involve 14th Amendment and conspiracy claims.”

Book had requested some of the information in 2018 during an unsuccessful run for the 128th District seat — the information was provided after the election, the complaint states — and in 2019 for his unsuccessful run for mayor of Bridgeport. Much of that information was never given him, the complaint states.

Bashar would not comment on the pending litigation, saying only: “We will see through the courts the proper outcome.”

“(Book) has a history of making frivolous complaints and lawsuits that can constitute harassment at times,” Sequeira said about the suit, which he said he has not read. “He has a history of not being credible. I do not take this seriously.”

Lauretti did not respond to a request for comment.