HARTFORD >> Almost two years after a West Haven man waived his right to an indictment and pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy, bribery and tax evasion charges, he was sentenced in federal court to 48 months of imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release.
Michael Siwek, 56, also was ordered to pay restitution of $1,503,096.91 and more than $360,000 to the IRS.
Siwek was executive director of the West Haven Housing Authority and is reported to have accepted about $1.5 million in bribes in exchange for guaranteeing business to co-conspirators between February 2007 and February 2012.
He resigned from the post in 2012 amidst the federal investigation. He was arrested in September 2014 and pleaded guilty later that month.
The West haven Housing Authority receives federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. As executive director, Siwek was in charge of procuring services for the housing group, and he reportedly made business decisions based on bribes from co-conspirators, according to the federal complaint in the case.
As part of the plea agreement, both parties reserved the right to appeal any sentence handed down in the case. Siwek was subject to a five-year sentence for the conspiracy charge, 10 years for bribery, and another five years for the tax evasion charge.
An initial assessment, done by the government in the plea agreement, estimated that a sentencing guideline of 135 months to 168 months would be recommended to the court by the probation office.
Supporters of Siwek argued that his actions were fueled by a gambling addiction — one for which he has been seeking treatment for a number of years. Letters to the court describe Siwek as a well-liked member of the North Haven community.
One of the clinical psychologists working with Siwek, Marvin Steinberg of Guilford, told the Register that Siwek’s battles with a gambling and food addiction were partially to blame for his illegal actions.
“He has a very long history of positive work ethic,” Steinberg said. “But once he got hooked on gambling, they all faded away.”
Steinberg is the former president of the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling. Like all addictions, gambling encourages self-destructive behavior and there can be no limits to the extent to which people will go to fuel an addiction, he said.
“When they exhaust all legal ways of getting money, they turn to family and friends,” Steinberg said. “It’s not that they turn to crime right away.”
“Fundamentally, if you’re dealing with addictions, you’re destroying yourself,” he added.
Steinberg said that Siwek has been working hard to recover from the addiction and he regularly attends Gamblers Anonymous.
Co-conspirators in the scheme include Harry Miconi of West Haven, Ceasar Anquillare of Orange and Andrew Ross of New Haven.
Miconi was sentenced to six months in federal prison in October 2014. Anquillare is serving two years of probation, after being sentenced late last year.
Ross was sentenced to one year in prison in May.