The city of Hartford, Conn., has settled a civil lawsuit against two developers and others involved in a failed bid to renovate the city’s multipurpose Dillon stadium.
Hartford filed its lawsuit back in 2016, claiming developer Mitchell Anderson and James Duckett Jr. stole more than $700,000 as part of a scheme related to the renovation of the former home of the New England Nightmare, a professional soccer team.
As part of its lawsuit, Hartford was claiming triple the amount it said it had identified as stolen.
According to the Hartford Courant, Hartford mayor Luke Bronin said the city had recovered $110,000 from an account maintained by Anderson’s attorney, as well as $50,000 from Big Span Structures, which did design work for the project. The city also collected $350,000 from an insurance company that had provided a fake certificate that indicated the stadium project, as well as the city, was insured when no policy had been issued.
Anderson won a $12,000,000 contract in 2014 to rebuild Dillon Stadium but was unable to secure the financing required by professional soccer leagues. He was later introduced to Duckett who claimed to be a wealthy ex-NFL player with extensive business contacts and the pair moved forward with the project.
Over the next few years, hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds were diverted to Anderson and Duckett’s bank accounts. Meanwhile, the subcontractors and soccer players were not being paid.
“Under the previous administration, Hartford taxpayers lost nearly $2 million because of the fraud committed by James Duckett and Mitchell Anderson against the city,” Bronin said in the statement. “When we took office, there was no guarantee the city would recover any of the funds lost as a result of this illegal scheme, and we’ve aggressively pursued all avenues to recover taxpayer dollars. Today, we can finally close an unfortunate chapter in Hartford’s history.”
Anderson took a plea deal. In exchange for testimony against Duckett, he received a six-month sentence. Duckett was convicted by a jury and was ordered to 36 months in prison. Together the pair was ordered to pay $1,218,595 in restitution — $889,287 to the city and $329,308 to Quisenberry Arcari Architects, a subcontractor on the project.
Bronin admitted that the city is actually owed more money but said he doesn’t expect the developers can make the payments.