New Haven Jury Convicts Wilfredo Perez
JUN 29 - Mark R. Trouville Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in New England and Kevin J. O'Connor, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that a federal jury sitting in New Haven today convicted WILFREDO PEREZ, age 37, formerly of Hartford, Connecticut, of four counts relating to the 1996 murder of Theodore "Teddy" Casiano. PEREZ was convicted of conspiring to commit a murder-for-hire, interstate murder-for-hire, aiding and abetting the murder of Casiano as a violent act in furtherance of a racketeering enterprise, and using a firearm to kill Casiano. United States District Judge Janet B. Arterton presided over the three-week trial. The jury returned its verdict after approximately four days of deliberation.
Evidence presented at trial revealed that in 1996, PEREZ was distributing large quantities of cocaine on the retail level in Hartford, Connecticut. Casiano, a leading member of the Savage Nomad street gang, threatened PEREZ's drug distribution network and, as a result, PEREZ hired killers from New York to kill Casiano. PEREZ paid the killers $6,000 for the murder, which was committed a short distance away from his place of business, Perez Auto, on Newfield Avenue in Hartford. The jury found that PEREZ, as leader of his drug organization, was responsible for ordering Casiano's murder, for luring Casiano to the scene of the murder, and for paying for the murder.
PEREZ now faces the possibility of a death sentence. The penalty phase of the trial will begin on Thursday, July 1, 2004. In the alternative, PEREZ will face a sentence of mandatory life imprisonment.
To date, four other persons have been convicted in this case. Mario Lopez, who rode the motorcycle used in the murder, pleaded guilty to the same charges of which PEREZ was convicted. Santiago Feliciano, who took the motorcycle back to New York after the murder, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit murder-for-hire. Jose Antonio Perez, the brother of WILFREDO PEREZ, was convicted after trial of the same charges as his brother, and has been sentenced to life imprisonment plus five years (to run consecutive). And Raymond Pina, who traveled to Hartford with the killers on the day before the murder, has been convicted by a jury of obstructing the grand jury investigation of this matter.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Hartford Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys David A. Ring