Vazzano takes leave from Trumbull police commission

John Vazzano was charged Wednesday with one count each of bribery of a witness, third-degree hindering prosecution and interfering with an officer.

John Vazzano was charged Wednesday with one count each of bribery of a witness, third-degree hindering prosecution and interfering with an officer.

Contributed photo

TRUMBULL — After learning on Friday that town officials were reviewing the details surrounding his arrest, restaurant owner and Police Commission member John Vazzano decided to take a leave of absence from his volunteer role with the town.

Vazzano was arrested on Wednesday and charged with bribery, hindering prosecution and interfering with an officer during the investigation into allegations that two employees of Vazzy’s restaurant in Bridgeport, which he owns, had sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl who also worked at the restaurant, according to the affidavit attached to his arrest warrant. The lengthy document contains details of the investigation, including summaries of various witness’ statements.

“We’re having some internal communications on the matter, and that’s really all I can say right now,” First Selectman Vicki Tesoro said on Friday of Vazzano’s arrest.

Vazzano has been a long-serving member of the town’s police commission, which has “general management and control of the Police Department and all apparatus, equipment and premises owned or used by the Town for police purposes,” according to the town charter. Commissioners have the authority to remove, suspend or discipline police officers. It is an unpaid appointed position.

Tesoro said town attorneys were reviewing the charter to determine the town’s options.

Vazzano’s lawyer, Edward Gavin, first said he wasn’t aware of any situation relating to his client in Trumbull but that “John Vazzano will act appropriately at all times.” Later in the day, Gavin told Hearst Connecticut Media that Vazzano would take a leave of absence from the police commission.

Section 25d of the town charter provides for the removal of appointed members of the town’s boards and commissions under specific circumstances. The section reads: “The appointing authority may remove any member of an appointed commission or board for failing to participate in at least fifty percent (50%) of the meetings in a fiscal year or failing to participate in three (3) consecutive meetings.”

Tesoro said it was not clear who the “appointing authority” is when it comes to Police Commission members. Section 8a of the charter directs that Police Commission consists of five members who “shall be recommended by the First Selectman and appointed by the Town Council.”

The charter gives the Ethics Commission the authority to discipline “any employee or official who willfully violates any of the provisions of this Charter, ordinances of the Town or code of ethics.” Such discipline could include removal from a town position.

Tesoro, the town council or the Police Commission itself could choose to file a complaint to the Ethics Commission. That was the case in 2016 when the Police Commission, which included Vazzano, referred then-Chairman Roger McGovern to the Ethics Commission after he was investigated by Trumbull police for allegedly harassing a Stop and Shop employee following a minor traffic accident. McGovern would later resign from the Police Commission.