Our investigation of Senator Mae Flexer’s relationship with accused sexual predator, Gary Sousa now includes a $50,000.00 state grant issued in March of 2018 to Sousa’s K Town Automotive in Killingly. The auto dealer and AAA affiliate then closed its doors within months of receiving the funding. Because the timing of the grant had occurred shortly after our initial reporting on the relationship between the legislator and the former Plainfield Police Chief, CT Chronicle submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for all communications between Flexer, Gary Sousa and K-Town Automotive.
CT Chronicle first reported in December 2017 on a Small Business Express loan granted to the auto dealer that Senator Flexer touted on a press release issued by Governor Dannel Malloy in 2012. The press release stated that K-Town Automotive had been awarded a $50,000.00 loan to expand its vehicle recovery business. What raised eyebrows in our initial reporting was that Sousa had resigned as police chief in Plainfield, CT over egregious claims of sexual harassment by several women, employed by the town, prior to starting this business. One of the alleged victims had stated Sousa had pulled her over at night on a dark road and that she was “afraid of him because of his badge and his gun.”
In December of 2018 we learned that K-Town had been issued another $50,000.00 loan. The loan was granted in March 2018 through the Department of Economic and Community Development’s (DECD) Small Business Express Program. Sources from a nearby business informed us that they had been “closed up since early August (2018).” They stated that the place was overgrown and there hadn’t been any cars on the lot all summer. We checked on the Connecticut Secretary of State’s C.O.N.C.O.R.D. business look up site and found that the business was still showing as active in December 2018.
We contacted DECD in December 2018 to ask about the loan and the status of the business. We spoke to Mr. Jim Watson, Communications Director. Mr. Watson stated he was not aware of the current status of K-Town’s operations but would be checking into it. In subsequent phone calls Mr. Watson stated that the K-Town was indeed out of business. We asked if there were any action the DECD was planning to recoup the monies loaned. Mr. Watson stated that they would be initiating actions to claw back the funding.
Upon researching for this update to our original reporting, we once again checked the C.O.N.C.O.R.D. site and found that K-Town filed a dissolution of the business in February 2019. This was no doubt due to the calls and inquiries from DECD.
Due to the timing of the DECD loan to the original story, the sudden closure of the business only months from receiving the loan and the fact that Flexer had apparently aided the business in its first loan, we sought to determine if the senator had assisted in the latest loan as well as determine what was the nature of the relationship between Flexer and Sousa. We submitted our FOIA request in mid-December 2018. On December 26, 2018 we received confirmation from Joel Rudikoff, Chief Legal Counsel for the Senate Democratic Caucus that they had received our request for all communications between Flexer, Sousa and K-Town Automotive going back to 2010. We have not received the requested information from the Counsel’s office as of this writing.
We can only infer at this point, but if there was no or limited communication between the parties the tasking set forth in our FOIA should have yielded those results rather quickly. We have sought comment from Senator Flexer’s office and have not been able to speak to the senator. We have also tried to contact Mr. Sousa and have not been successful.
Many questions remain in this story. Why did Sousa apply for another loan only months after our story brought to light the connection between him and Flexer? Did Flexer have any role in securing the latest loan? What knowledge of Sousa’s past, particularly the claims of sexual harassment, was Flexer aware of prior to the first loan?
These and other questions need to be answered, we will keep updating the story as information becomes available.