Final witnesses called in Botti trial

NEW HAVEN — The evidence against James Botti, a Shelton developer accused of conspiring with Shelton Mayor Mark A. Lauretti to push through Botti’s 828 Bridgeport Ave. development, came to an end Tuesday with testimony from two witnesses.
William F. Dow, III, Botti’s attorney, called Neil Heslin, a long time Botti friend, and Paul DiMauro, a part-time Shelton public works employee, as his final witnesses.
Heslin claimed he overheard Andre Czaplinski, a key prosecution witness, angrily tell Botti he was going to lie and tell federal investigators the developer paid the mayor $50,000. Heslin said the argument resulted from Botti’s failure to sell Czaplinski a piece of property on Bridgeport Avenue.
But on cross examination, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Kale tore into Heslin pointing out he told no one about this 2006 incident until last month. Kale further noted Heslin did prison time for a DUI conviction.
DiMauro testified that he spends every Christmas morning with Lauretti. DiMauro said he asked the mayor once if he was ever a partner in any way shape or form or had any transactions with Botti. “The mayor said no,” Di Mauro testified. “He emphatically said no.”
When the trial resumes Wednesday morning the jury will hear final arguments from both sides and are expected to begin deliberations on Thursday.
—By Michael P. Mayko

Anne Amato