A Bridgeport city employee, Daniel Pizarro, could face criminal prosecution after hosting a 48th birthday bash on Jan. 16.
The party violated Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive order on private gatherings, according to the Trumbull Police Department.
The police arrived at the party on Huntington Turnpike near the Bridgeport city line after receiving notice of a traffic hazard. Police asked Pizarro to shut down the party, and he complied.
Pizarro was fined $500 for violating state COVID restrictions.
Pizarro’s attorney, Dennis Bradley, who’s also a state senator, said Pizarro was unaware of the COVID restrictions at the time of the party and is filled with remorse. But Bradley believes any further repercussion would set a bad precedent.
“These are new times for all of us and it’s been trying times for all of us, as to what we can and cannot do,” he said. “We don’t want to change the rules as to what the consequences are for violation. Now for people to want him to be further criminally prosecuted, it would be unfair for him or anyone of us to be the new standard. The crime does not match the punishment.”
A video on Pizarro’s social media showed maskless guests not adhering to social distancing rules. After the incident, Pizarro told Hearst Connecticut he celebrated his birthday with over 300 people.
But Bradley now claims only 30 to 40 people were present, many of whom turned up uninvited.
Maritza Bond, the director of New Haven’s Health Department, was among the guests.
She told Connecticut Public she attended the party briefly to drop off a gift for Pizarro while people were setting up equipment and eating outside.
“I did say, ‘You’re not having a large gathering, right?’ And he was like, ‘no, no, no,’” she said. “Because they were setting up music. … And I know that the outdoor dining was not alarming to me, because that’s really what the standards say. If you’re going to have guests, it’s better to have dining outside. And so the dining was, sort of, set up in a tent, and so I thought that was appropriate. I didn’t think it was going to escalate to the level it did.”
Bond said she was disappointed when she later saw the video.
Also in attendance throughout the night was Bridgeport state Rep. Chris Rosario.
Bridgeport Councilwoman Maria Pereira said she was appalled by the video and is calling for Pizarro and any other municipal employee who attended the party to be fired.
“Any municipal employee, state employee, public official or elected official has to be held to a higher standard. We can’t be out there telling people to follow the law, the regulations and the executive orders and then do the complete opposite,” she added.
Pereira called the event a superspreader and said Pizarro also should face a steeper fine.