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Meriden city councilor considers deal to reduce felony charge

Meriden city councilor considers deal to reduce felony charge

reporter photo

MILFORD — A prosecutor offered not to object if City Councilor Miguel Castro applies for accelerated rehabilitation in connection with an alleged courthouse assault case, and would consider reducing the charges.

Castro’s case was continued Thursday so he can discuss the offer with his attorney.

Castro, 49, of 51 Bradley Ave., has not yet entered a plea to two counts of assault on public safety personnel, a felony, and one count of first-degree riot. The case was previously transferred to Milford Superior Court from Meriden.

Castro appeared in court Thursday with his attorney Robert Berke and a group of supporters. Outside of the courtroom, Berke said the prosecutor is contemplating dropping the felony charges and substituting class A misdemeanor charges.

Prosecutors would not object if Castro applies for accelerated rehabilitation – a diversionary program. Castro stressed that it was the prosecutor’s offer, not something he sought out. Berke and Castro said they will discuss the option and will return to court on Aug. 7. 

“It’s not an agreement, it’s not something that we said we’re going to do,” Berke said. “...We’re just relaying what the state is offering. It’s the state’s offer.”

Accelerated rehabilitation is a program for first-time offenders that, if granted by a judge and successfully completed, results in the charges against a defendant being dismissed. 

‘Not about me’

While he has yet to enter a plea, Castro denies the charges stemming from a Dec. 13 protest outside the Meriden courthouse in support of a New Haven man taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

According to state police, Castro assaulted two marshals while they were attempting to move a crowd of about 15 to 20 protestors.

“I’m extremely confident that where we stand is in a very strong, positive position to prove beyond reasonable doubt what really transpired, in our favor,” Castro said outside the courtroom Thursday. “This is not about me.”

Castro and others were protesting the deportation of a Mexican citizen who was convicted of driving under the influence the night of his deportation. According to court and police records, the man was using two identities. He appeared in court on Dec.13 under the name Elias Roblero-Berduo, 40, to answer to impaired driving charges stemming from arrests in January 2017 and December 2016, as well as a criminal impersonation charge in January.

After he pleaded guilty, judicial marshals placed the man in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel, who reported him to be Arnoldo Velazquez-Perez, a Mexican national.

Wallingford police said a fingerprint check revealed his name to be Velazquez-Perez after he had initially provided a false name at the time of his arrest on the DUI charge in January 2017.

Velazquez-Perez was previously deported in 2010 and 2018, ICE spokesman John Mohan said in a statement last year. 

Castro told state police he was attending to the two teenage children of the man being deported. Castro said Thursday that he wants to show the flawed process that puts “families like this one in predicaments of hardship.” 

Council seat at risk

Castro has served on the City Council since 2012 and is in the middle of a four-year term set to end in 2021. A felony conviction would disqualify him from continuing in office, according to the Secretary of the State. 

On Thursday, multiple rows were filled in the courtroom with supporters of Castro. Nancy Burton, of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Meriden, said Castro has been a consistent supporter of immigrant rights.

Gini King, an organizer with Connecticut Shoreline Indivisible, was also there to support Castro. King said the group works to assist immigrants in legal cases, including stopping deportation and helping their families.
Twitter: @LaurenSellewRJ