Zach Epps emerged from the chaos to become Doddville’s next mayor.

Epps, who served on the City Council for the past six years, defeated local attorney Sherry Wood in Tuesday’s special election, winning 59 percent of the vote.

In October, a pornography scandal sunk sitting mayor Ken Mitchell, who charged more than $400 to his Doddville-issued credit card to buy access to an array of explicit websites. Then an infidelity scandal submarined Wood, Epp’s main challenger. Wood tried to deny the allegations to the end, but her polls number sagged after Gotcha! broke the story that Wood’s dalliances led to her divorce. A number of sources, who requested anonymity, corroborated Wood’s infidelity.

As the most morally upright candidate left, Epps seemed to win by default. In his acceptance speech, Epps trumpeted a familiar refrain, promising to return transparency and morality to City Hall.

City Hall’s history of corruption and cover-ups, of which Epps at least had a front-row seat as a member of City Council, makes Epps’ promises seem like more rhetoric. I guess we’ll see.

Epps will be sworn in Thursday.
 
 
The Doddville mayoral race is shining a bright light into Sherry Wood’s past, and it’s not pretty.

Wood announced her candidacy shortly after Ken Mitchell stepped down at the beginning of October. Wood, who is a personal injury attorney in Doddville, has long entertained political ambitions, sources tell Gotcha!.  However, the vetting process might have her second-guessing those ambitions.

Wood went through a messy divorce three years ago, and sources tell Gotcha! that Wood’s infidelity sparked the split. One source went so far as to say that Wood had a sexual relationship with at least one client and possibly another.

Wood strongly denied the charges Tuesday, calling them a “cheap smear campaign,” and noted that the Connecticut Bar never has brought sanctions against her. Gotcha! could not reach Wood’s ex-husband, Colin Hartley, a local real estate developer, for comment.

The latest revelation about Wood comes on the heels of other damaging info. Wood was arrested for drunk driving and pled guilty to misdemeanor driving under the influence in YR-09. Furthermore, the IRS also pursued Wood for tax evasion, though that case apparently settled in YR-07.

The latest polls show City Council Member Zach Epps leading Wood by six points with the special election to fill Mitchell’s remaining term just a couple of weeks away. Despite persistent rumors that City Council Member Laura McGraw and others would run, it looks like a two-horse race.

 
 
Ensnared by a pornography scandal, Ken Mitchell resigned as Doddville mayor on Thursday.

Spending records indicate Mitchell charged more than $400 to his Doddville-issued credit card to buy access to an array of pornographic websites. Doddville City Auditor Tony Tarrant said Wednesday that an independent audit confirmed Mitchell had used his city credit card for improper purchases.

After Tarrant’s disclosure, Mitchell’s departure was just a matter of time, and sources inside City Hall tell Gotcha!  that Mitchell has spent the past 24 hours figuring out the best way to step down.

Mitchell continues to hide from the media and still has not made a public appearance since Gotcha! broke the story. However, in a press release, Mitchell stated, “I deeply regret my actions and sincerely apologize to the people of Doddville. I made a mistake, but this is not who I am. I now ask for privacy as I make things right with God and my family.”

Doddville will hold a special election sometime in November to fulfill the remaining 21 months of Mitchell’s term. Gotcha! believes City Council Member Laura McGraw and prominent local attorney Sherry Wood most likely will face off for Mitchell's vacated post, though neither has officially announced her intention to run.
 
 
Doddville City Auditor Tony Tarrant has ordered an independent audit of city spending records after Gotcha! revealed last week that Doddville Mayor Ken Mitchell purchased porn with a city credit card.

Both Tarrant and Mitchell have steadfastly refused comment on the issue, but the independent audit appears an admission that all is not as it should be at City Hall these days.  Spending records indicate Mitchell charged more than $400 to his Doddville-issued credit card to buy access to an array of pornographic websites.

Since the revelation, Mitchell has retreated from the limelight, stepping down from a leadership position at the Doddville United Methodist Church and avoiding public comment. Just two years ago, Mitchell won the mayor’s office with 58-percent of the vote, sweeping out longtime incumbent Paul Gibson.

Mitchell campaigned on a platform of government accountability, telling voters that their elected officials should reflect their community’s ethics and morals.

Now the question looms whether Mitchell will make it two more years to complete his term. Sources inside City Hall tell Gotcha! that members of the City Council are applying pressure on Mitchell to step down as mayor.

Gotcha! will have more on this story as it develops.
 
 
Doddville Mayor Ken Mitchell charged a lot more than meals and mileage to his government credit card.

Gotcha! has received spending records from Mitchell’s Doddville-issued credit card, and they include more than $400 in purchases to a number of pornographic websites.  It appears Doddville taxpayers have unknowingly footed the bill for Mitchell’s fetishes dating back to February YR-03.

Officially, Doddville issues credit cards to its city council members and the mayor for pre-approved travel and city business-related expenses.  City Auditor Tony Tarrant is supposed to monitor charges to city credit cards, but an anonymous source tells Gotcha! that Tarrant has known about Mitchell’s illicit spending for months and has done nothing about it.

Both Mitchell and Tarrant refused to speak to Gotcha! about the misconduct, hiding behind “No comment.”

But Gotcha!’s records revelation is no doubt a stain on Mitchell’s public image. Mitchell is an active member of the Doddville United Methodist Church and an outspoken opponent of the “vices” of alcohol, drugs, and pornography. For now, Doddville Methodist Pastor Alan Shaw said he stands by Mitchell and wants to wait for all of the facts to come out before jumping to conclusions.

My conclusion is Mitchell should have added hypocrisy to that list of vices. Gotcha! will have more on this story as it develops.
 
 
It appears Sen. Robert Craig (D) will not face criminal charges despite paying an escort for sexual services for the past four years.

In April, a woman came forward and told Gotcha! that Sen. Craig  paid her for sexual relations about eight or nine times a year, spending between $500 to $1,000 a night for her services. The senator and the escort’s dealings dated all the way back to July YR-06, according to the woman.

Sen. Craig denied the allegations, but Gotcha!’s story prompted an FBI/IRS investigation into Sen. Craig’s dealings. However, after a one-month investigation, both federal agencies announced they would not pursue charges against the senator. The escort apparently did not cooperate with federal authorities.

The woman has not spoken with the press since her initial interview with Gotcha! and declined to comment for this story.

Craig still plans to run for re-election next year.
 
 
A woman has accused Connecticut Sen. Robert Craig (D) paying her for numerous sexual encounters during the past four years.

The 26-year-old woman, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation, told Gotcha! this week that Sen. Craig first contacted her through her website in July YR-06 and paid her between $500 to $1,000 a night for her services. She estimates she had sexual relations with the senator about eight or nine times a year — usually in Washington DC, but occasionally in Hartford, as well.

The woman said she did not know Craig was a senator until YR-03, at which point he asked her to keep his identity “for additional considerations.” The woman declined to elaborate on what those “considerations” entailed. However, the woman said she had not heard from Sen. Craig in three months and decided to coming forward was the “right thing to do.”

Sen. Craig’s spokeswoman, Carol Lane, told Gotcha! that the accusations are “baseless” and the senator declined to comment further.

As of Monday, the woman’s personal website was not active, and she claims to have left the industry. But while she hinted that other powerful and famous men sought her services, Sen. Craig is the only client the woman named in her interview with Gotcha!.

Craig rose to political prominence as a state representative from Hartford who took local companies to task for polluting the Connecticut River.  From there, Craig hopped across the political stepping stones, becoming a state senator in YR-11 and then a U.S. senator in YR-07. Craig is up for re-election next year, and this scandal could deal a serious blow to his candidacy.
 
 
The Connecticut Committee on Judicial Ethics released a report Monday stating it found no evidence of wrongdoing with regard to allegations that Appellate Court Judge Robert Bradley’s chambers leaked drafts of opinions.

Judge Bradley has maintained throughout the process that neither he, nor his clerks, leaked drafts of opinions to attorneys involved with the cases. However, anonymous sources maintain that at least one of Judge Bradley’s clerks leaked opinions, giving the lawyers involved a heads up on whether or not they should settle their cases before the final opinions came down.

In complex civil cases, settling a losing case can save the clients millions of dollars in hefty damages, sources tell Gotcha!. Two Hartford attorneys, who requested anonymity for professional reasons, said they had seen cases abruptly settle at the last minute in Judge Bradley’s chambers under circumstances they called “definitely curious.”

However, that testimony apparently was insufficient for the Committee on Judicial Ethics, which concluded it “was satisfied that no impropriety occurred in Judge Bradley’s chambers” and found the allegations regarding the leaking of draft opinions to be “patently false.”

While it appears for the Committee on Judicial Ethics’ investigation is over, Gotcha! will continue to look into this matter.
 
 
Leaks of appellate court draft opinions are giving some attorneys a leg up when it comes to settling cases, sources tell Gotcha!.

Those sources, who spoke on a condition of anonymity because of the nature of the information, assert that someone in Connecticut Appellate Court Judge Robert Bradley’s chambers is leaking drafts of opinions to attorneys involved in the cases before Judge Bradley hands down those opinions.

Attorneys have used those leaks to formulate their last-minute settlement strategies. Essentially, if the draft opinion is favorable, the attorney pulls out of settlement negotiations. However, if it appears from the draft that the attorney’s client is about to lose its appeal, the attorney settles the case to avoid that pending judgment.

In complex civil cases, settling a losing case can save the clients millions of dollars in hefty damages, sources tell Gotcha!. Two Hartford attorneys, who requested anonymity for professional reasons, said they had seen cases abruptly settle at the last minute in Judge Bradley’s chambers under circumstances they called “definitely curious.”

Sources tell Gotcha! the leaks are limited to Judge Bradley’s cases and a couple of prominent Hartford law firms. It goes without saying that the leaks are egregious breaches of ethics for both sides, in addition to illegal.

Both Judge Bradley and the Connecticut Committee on Judicial Ethics declined to comment. Gotcha! will pass along more information as this story develops.