Connecticut Senate Minority Leader Louis DeLuca resigned as leader of the Senate Republicans this week after coming under fire for asking a trash hauler to threaten a man the senator believed had abused his granddaughter.
DeLuca, 73, pleaded guilty last week to a misdemeanor threat charge.
“After careful consideration, and out of respect for this institution and for my caucus, I have decided to step down from my leadership position,” DeLuca said in a written statement. “I promised from the beginning that I would not allow my mistake that I made interfere with my public office.”
DeLuca represents Woodbury and nine other towns. He plans to continue serving as a senator.
He received a six-month suspended sentence and was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine and donate $1,500 to charity as part of the plea deal.
Senate Minority Leader Pro Tempore John McKinney, R-Fairfield, the second-highest ranking GOP senator, will assume the top spot until the caucus elects a new leader.
The leadership change comes as lawmakers meet behind closed doors with the governor’s budget staff in a special legislative session to reach a deal on a new, two-year tax and spending proposal.
State and federal authorities said DeLuca in 2005 sought help from James Galante, a Danbury trash hauler currently awaiting trial on 72 counts of tax fraud, racketeering, threatening and extortion.
DeLuca said he had sought help from the Waterbury Police, but to no avail. Frustrated by the situation, the senator said he discussed it with Galante in a Woodbury diner, where the trash hauler passed DeLuca a note that asked, “Do you want me to have someone pay him a visit?”
Authorities said DeLuca told Galante “yes” and gave Galante the name and address of his granddaughter’s then-boyfriend. She is now married to him.
Waterbury police have contradicted DeLuca’s claims that he asked police three times for help.
The assault never happened. Prosecutors, who recovered the note in a search of Galante’s home, said they stopped the assault. DeLuca has apologized for his actions, calling them “stupid” and said he never meant to cause any physical harm to the man.
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