Outcry prompts management change at Naughty Water

Updated, Tuesday Dec. 10 at 5:10 p.m.

Mario Marro, the convicted sex offender and former fugitive whose work drew the ire of several Bridgeport neighbors, will not be the general manager at Naughty Water Whiskey Bar and Grille when the restaurant opens its doors in the city’s Black Rock neighborhood later this month.

The owner of the restaurant, Jerry Iannucci, confirmed Tuesday that his nephew won’t be working at the bar in any capacity once it opens, because doing so would violate the probation Marro received for a sexual assault conviction more than 12 years ago.

Iannucci said Tuesday that he had never intended for Marro to oversee operations of the restaurant’s bar or cooking areas. He said his nephew has been in charge of construction and preparing the restaurant for opening.

Iannucci previously said Naughty Water was aiming to open for business on Dec. 16, but he said Tuesday that the restaurant is aiming to open by the end of the month.

The management change comes just days after a contentious meeting this past weekend at which several residents voiced strong opposition to Marro’s work there. Leading the meeting and the call for a change were City Councilwoman Susan Brannelly and state Rep. Auden Grogins.

The two Democrats had organized a petition calling for the state liquor commission to take a closer look at the restaurant’s management when the panel considers the restaurant’s application for a permanent liquor license.

On Monday, Brannelly said they will still submit their petition even though Marro won’t be working there. Naughty Water currently has a provisional liquor license from the state.

Marro’s work at Naughty Water had generated backlash in the neighborhood because he plead guilty in 2000 to sexually assaulting a woman after giving her water drugged with a cat sedative called ketamine. Marro fled Connecticut before he could be sentenced and was feature on America’s Most Wanted while he was on the run.

Authorities eventually apprehended Marro in Washington state where they said he was preparing to flee that state. He was released from prison in Connecticut in early January and is on probation for 15 years. Part of the probation requires him to register as a sex offender to get a probation officer’s approval before starting a new job.

Iannucci also vehemently denied that the restaurant’s name is a reference to Marro’s criminal past. He said “naughty water” is a Prohibition-era term for whiskey and other spirits in decades past. He said his restaurant will be upscale and unlike any other eatery in Connecticut.

“We told the architects, ‘we want something completely different,'” he said Tuesday. “We’re looking for a new trend.”

Wes Duplantier