Soccer stadium developer found guilty of defrauding city

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A developer has been convicted of defrauding taxpayers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in a failed effort to build a professional soccer stadium.

James Duckett Jr. was found guilty on Thursday on 12 of the 13 charges against him, including multiple counts of wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. The federal jury in Bridgeport reached the verdict after deliberating less than two hours and following a six-day trial.

Duckett and another developer had been hired by Hartford to oversee the $12 million stadium plan. The two were responsible for securing a professional soccer team and developing a new 9,000-seat facility at the Dillon Stadium location.

But prosecutors allege Duckett and his partner, Mitchell Anderson, never paid subcontractors and directed more than $1 million from the city to support a lavish lifestyle for Duckett and expenses unrelated to the stadium project before Hartford cancelled their contract and sued.

The Major Arena Soccer League dropped the team before a game was ever played.

During the trial, Duckett's lawyer portrayed him as an ambitious businessman who earnestly tried to bring professional soccer to the Connecticut capital.

Anderson pleaded guilty to two fraud-related counts this year and agreed to make $1.1 million in restitution to the city and the affected subcontractors. He and Duckett will be sentenced later.

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