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Final Decision FIC2011-372
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Gregory Bishop,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2011-372
Support Services Department, Police Department,
City of Middletown; and Police Department,
City of Middletown,
     Respondents
April 11, 2012

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 16, 2011, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-200(1)(A), G.S.
2. It is found that on June 7, 2011, the complainant requested a copy of records “in connection with case number 10-29790 involving fraud and forgery.”
3. It is found that on June 17, 2011, the respondents denied the complainant’s request.
4. By letter filed July 15, 2011, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide him with the records he requested.
5.  Section 1-200(5), G.S., provides:
     Public records or files means any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, …whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.

6.  Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides, in relevant part:
     Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to … receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-212.
7.  Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:  “Any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain, facsimile, electronic or certified copy of any public record.”
8. It is concluded that the records requested by the complainant are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S.
9. It is found that the complainant alleges that the woman who was hired to clean his now late father’s condo committed forgery in order to defraud her employer of more than $80,000.  It is found that the records that the complainant requested pertain to the respondents’ investigation of the complainant’s allegation.   
10. The respondents claim the records are exempt from mandatory disclosure as uncorroborated allegations of crime. 
11.  Section 1-210(b)(3)(G), G.S., provides that disclosure is not required of:
     Records of law enforcement agencies not otherwise available to the public which records were compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of crime, if the disclosure of said records would not be in the public interest because it would result in the disclosure of …  (G) uncorroborated allegations subject to destruction pursuant to section 1-216 ….
12.  Section 1-216, G.S., provides:
     Except for records the retention of which is otherwise controlled by law or regulation, records of law enforcement agencies consisting of uncorroborated allegations that an individual has engaged in criminal activity shall be reviewed by the law enforcement agency one year after the creation of such records.  If the existence of the alleged criminal activity cannot be corroborated within ninety days of the commencement of such review, the law enforcement agency shall destroy such records.

13. It is found that the respondents presented the results of their investigation to a prosecutor at the State’s Attorney’s office, but the State’s Attorney declined to prosecute based on a lack of probable cause.
14. Following the hearing in this matter, the respondents submitted the records described in paragraph 2, above, to the Commission for an in camera inspection (hereinafter the “in camera records”).  Such in camera records shall be identified at IC-2011-372-01 through IC-2011-372-19.
15. In contested case Docket #FIC 94-291, Rachel Gottlieb and The Hartford Courant v. State of Connecticut, Department of Public Safety, Division of State Police, (“FIC 94-291”) the Commission found that Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition (1990), defines “corroborate” as “to strengthen, to add weight or credibility to a thing by additional and confirming facts or evidence.” Ballentines Law Dictionary, Third Edition (1969) defines corroborate as “to state facts tending to produce confidence in the truth of a statement made by another.”  Funk & Wagnall New Standard Dictionary of the English Language (1946) defines corroborate as “to give increased support to; make more sure or evident.”
16. In FIC 94-291, the Commission found that “the reports contain similar accounts relayed to the respondent by different interviewees concerning the allegations under investigation.” The Commission went on to find that “the requested reports contain allegations which were corroborated.”
17. In this case, as in FIC 94-291, it is found that the in camera records contain similar accounts of incidents told to the respondents by different individuals, and information that tends to strengthen, add weight and support allegations which were made.
18. It is found that allegations may be corroborated without rising to the level of probable cause that a crime has been committed.  See  Torres v. Chief, Police Department, City of New London, Docket #FIC 2005-553 (allegations were corroborated, although the State’s Attorney declined to prosecute because it would be difficult for the State to sustain its burden of proof).
19. Based upon careful review of the IC-2011-372-01 through IC-2011-372-19, it is found that such records do not contain uncorroborated allegations within the meaning of §1-210(b)(3)(G), G.S.
20. Consequently, it is found that disclosure of the in camera records would not result in the disclosure of uncorroborated allegations within the meaning of §1-210(b)(3)(G), G.S.
21. It is therefore concluded that the in camera records are not exempt from disclosure under §§1-210(b)(3)(G) and 1-216, G.S., and that the respondents violated the disclosure provisions of §§1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., by denying the complainant’s request.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1.     Forthwith, the respondents shall provide the complainant with a copy of the records described in paragraph 2 of the findings, above, free of charge.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 11, 2012.
__________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission
PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S., THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.
THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:
Gregory Bishop
155 West Main Street
Apt. 252
Vernon, CT  06066
Support Services Department, Police Department,
City of Middletown; and Police Department,
City of Middletown
c/o Timothy P. Lynch, Esq.
Acting City Attorney
245 DeKoven Drive
Middletown, CT  06457
____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC/2011-372/FD/cac/4/11/2012