Political comeback for ex-Waterbury Mayor who went to jail

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Ex-mayor Joseph Santopietro is making a political comeback. He had a fall from grace when he was mayor of Waterbury from 1986 to the end of 1991. He was arrested and convicted on several charges, including conspiracy, embezzlement, bank fraud, tax evasion and bribe taking.

In all, he says he spent about 6 years behind bars.

In a one-on-one interview today, Santopietro told News8 he apologizes to the people of Waterbury.

“I’m very, very sorry for what I put the city of Waterbury through, what I put my family through, what I did to the Republican Party.”

Wednesday, he’s hoping the Waterbury Republican Party nominates him to run for Alderman of Ward 1 in November.  It’s his part of town and he has many supporters.

Lena Vassiliou is one of them.

“He is a good man. He loves his family, he loves his community, he loves the people he works with,” Lena said. “Don’t you believe that everyone, not just Joseph, but everyone deserves a second chance?”

Still, in some people’s minds, when they look back at his time in office as mayor, they think….

“Corruption,” said Waterbury resident Dave Stevenson. “I wouldn’t trust him….that’s just me.”

“Someone posted on my Facebook about Joe running for alderman and her response was oh hell no and I responded to her with don’t you think people can change?” Lena said.

Santopietro says he has learned from his mistakes.

“I think the worse part was the aftermath of being introduced by parents to their children as a former mayor and being disgraced,” Santopietro said. “I think that bothered me probably the most.”

News8 asked him if people would be able to trust in him again.

“I hope so,” he said. “You have to rebuild that trust there’s no doubt about it.”

He says he’s already started trying to rebuild that trust by being very active in his community and in his church.

He says he wants to prove to the people of Waterbury that he is worthy of their trust again. And he’ll get that chance. Tonight, he was officially given the GOP nomination to be on the ballot in Ward 1. He got emotional after receiving the news.

“Really I’m humbled by this,” he told the crowd of Republican leaders. “I have mixed emotions. It’s been a long time and you never think sometimes it’s going to happen.”

It’s happening now.

“I’m thankful that I’ve been given an opportunity by the executive board and members of the First Ward to let the voters speak to see if I’m entitled to another chance,” he said.

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