Henry Juan III, a former member of the Connecticut Port Authority, was ordered to pay an $18,500 fine after settling a case in which state ethics officials alleged he illegally lobbied the staff and board members at the maritime agency in order to benefit a company he was associated with.
The settlement agreement, which was announced late Friday, did not require Juan to admit to any wrongdoing, but officials with the Office of State Ethics said the $18,500 fine was one of the largest settlements ever issued by the state.
“We are grateful for the significant assistance provided by the Office of the Attorney General,” Peter Lewandowski, the executive director of the Office of State Ethics, said. “Misuse of public office is the precise offense that spurred the creation of the State Ethics Commission back in 1977.”
“In enforcing state ethics laws, the Office of State Ethics sends a clear message that there is no tolerance for gamesmanship in state government,” he added.
Juan could not be reached for comment regarding the ethics settlement Friday.
According to a press release, the state was prepared to prove at an ethics hearing that Juan used his official position at the Port Authority to advance the interests of Seabury Maritime, which included work related to the redevelopment of New London State Pier.
Even more, the Office of State Ethics alleged that Juan was paid for those efforts, and it argued he should have been required to register as a lobbyist since he attempted to influence the decisions of the Port Authority in favor of the private business.
It is not the first time that the Office of State Ethics has issued findings in regards to Seabury.
The company itself has also been required to pay two $10,000 fines to the Office of State Ethics for illegally lobbying the Port Authority and for providing gifts to port authority employees and board members while seeking to do business with the maritime agency.
Juan’s involvement in the Port Authority and the State Pier project has been a much debated subject for several years now and could still be of interest to federal criminal investigators.
Juan and Seabury were both mentioned in a federal grand jury subpoena that was issued to the Port Authority in March 2022.
Port Authority records show the maritime agency paid Seabury $700,000 for consulting work related to the State Pier project, including a $535,000 “success fee.”
That contract was approved a few months after Juan resigned from the Port Authority board in February 2018.
But according to state ethics officials, Juan allegedly used his position to influence a selection process within the Port Authority before he left, and they said he also attempted to negotiate “future payments” for Seabury Maritime before he exited public office.