Burke's Harassment Case Dismissed, Announces He Will Run For First Selectman This Fall

Former First Selectman Robert Burke appeared in State Superior Court in Danbury Tuesday morning.

After appearing at State Superior Court in Danbury Tuesday and having his harassment charges dismissed, Former Bethel First Selectman Robert Burke announced that he will again seek the Office of Bethel First Selectman this fall.

Back in August 2009 Burke was arrested under the charges of second degree harassment, which stemmed from more than 40 phone calls made to a woman he had a one-year relationship with.

In January 2010 a judge approved his request to complete 15 months of accelerated rehabilitation, anger management classes and 150 hours of community service.

It was upon completing these orders that Judge Susan Cobb dismissed Burke of his charges Tuesday. Burke also appeared in court with lawyer Rob Serafinowicz. 

In an issued press release, Burke said: "I'm extremely happy to put what was been a very difficult situation behind me...I want to make it clear, I never did anything wrong and chose to use this [accelerated rehabilitation] program because it represented the most efficient means of putting an end to this matter."

Burke also claims his innocence to the charges and said choosing to complete the rehabilitation program does not suggest his guilt. 

"The allegations against me were not true," he said. "Recently, the Connecticut Supreme Court stated that using such a program does not imply the applicant is guilty of anything."

Burke was Bethel's First Selectman from 2005-2009, serving two terms as a Republican. The harassment case came while he was seeking a third term when he ran under the Pro-Bethel Party.

"This matter was the result of my political enemies, taking action specifically designed to harm me...to ensure my defeat in the last election and they hoped I would stay for good," Burke said. "This is not going to happen, and I announce today that I will again seek the Office of the Bethel First Selectman in the next municipal election."

Burke said while out of office several residents have asked that he run again and have expressed concern about the state of Bethel. Seeing the town operate from a private citizen's perspective, he said, will allow him to do a better job serving the town than before.  

Joan Reynolds April 05, 2011 at 07:24 PM
Congratulations Matt Knickerbocker, you've just been assured of a well deserved second term! Its so nice to have some class in Town Hall once again.
andi April 05, 2011 at 08:21 PM
Now that's what I'm talking about.
Dan Gaita April 06, 2011 at 12:49 AM
Our Current First Selectman certainly gives the impression that he is a good human being and a gentleman. Just as much as a really good salesman can convince you to buy something that you have absolutely no need for. Unfortunately Mr. Knickerbocker has a ten year history of misrepresenting information pertaining to such items as Bethel High School Accreditation, Bethel Budget Information, Pension Funding, Pension performance etc. He also attempted to change last years budget after it was approved by the BOF, luckily the BOF caught him before he violated both State Law and out Town charter. I will be voting for anyone but Knickerbocker. Here is more info: http://bethelct.info/bethel_news.htm
Dan Gaita April 06, 2011 at 01:06 AM
I really hope that the Bethel RTC and Mr. Burke can focus on the needs of Bethel rather than carrying-on the irresponsible pattern of childish political bickering that led to Mr. Knickerbocker winning with only 38% of the vote. Last Election Mr. Burke obtained 1300 votes, and raised more money with a committee of four people than the entire RTC was able to muster with their entire committee. All the while facing a harassment charge that has now been dismissed. No other third party candidate in Bethel History has ever mounted such a staggering near upset victory over a major party line. Sooner or later both Burke and the Bethel Republican Town Committee leadership needs to put the past behind them and work together. It is obvious that Burke is not giving up , and it is obvious the Bethel RTC is not going to work with Burke. They hate his style, they hate is attire, and he feels the same about them. Unfortuneately the entire Town of Bethel suffers as a result. Here is how the 2011 Bethel Municipal Election plays out (and i hope i am wrong): The RTC nominate their candidates, but they continue to ignore Burke, Burke forces a primary, loses by a margin of 2:1 because his supporters don't go out and vote and the RTC does a better job of getting their people to the poles. Just like the last election.
Dan Gaita April 06, 2011 at 01:13 AM
Continued: Then Burke, keeping with his style and historical pattern, runs on a third party line. He loves a good fight, and always has. He never gives up. No matter what the odds. Regardless of weather Burke gets 1300 votes or only 300 votes, Mr. Knickerbocker walks back into office with 38% of the vote due to the split in the Republican votes. As a result we will continue to watch Bethel's debt explode as Matt borrows money to fund raises, benefits, and expenses that should be built into the budget rather than being borrowed and put on the backs of our children. He will continue to tell us one thing, then tell the next person that walks in his office what they want to hear which will be the exact opposite of what he just said to the person before. In the mean time, Bethel storefronts will continue to empty out because Matt has failed to provide us with the promises he made during the election. Here they are in case you have all forgotten: http://www.bethelct.info/Archives/politics.htm
Dan Gaita April 06, 2011 at 01:27 AM
It appears my earlier post was deleted: I'll try again. the Bethel RTC and Mr. Burke MUST put aside their differences, swallow a bit of pride and work together for the people of Bethel. A third party line, that splits the Republican vote will only hurt Bethel. If it happens this year, Mr. Knickerbocker will win again with 38% of the vote. Take a look at the promises made during the last election by Mr. Knickerbocker: http://www.bethelct.info/Archives/politics.htm Ask yourself if any of these promises have been kept. Why would you re-elect someone that has failed to keep even one of his promises? Bob Burke and the Bethel Republican Town Committee PLEASE, for the sake of our town, businesses and families act like adults, put aside your differences and join forces. Stop the destructive division that has resulted in the emptying out of Bethel store fronts and a debt spending frenzy at the hands of someone running a $63,000,000 budget with only 38% of the vote. ALL OF YOU - GROW UP!
Bother April 06, 2011 at 02:52 AM
Dan, what are we to make of the sworn statements by the police regarding the charges against Mr. Burke that were published at the time? They contained allegations of criminal activity. Do you think that the town's policemen filed false statements to assist Mr. Burke's political adversaries? That would be a scary situation. I think we can either believe Mr. Burke's claims of innocence or believe the police but they cannot both be true, can they? How do we square that circle?
Bob B April 06, 2011 at 12:31 PM
Bob Burke? Come on Bethel Republicans - is that really the best you can offer for the leadership of this town? Is his getting revenge on his imagined enemies really our town's first priority? He really did the things he was convicted of. He has obviously not changed. I am happy with Matt Knickerbocker.
Bother April 06, 2011 at 01:10 PM
Mr. Burke was not convicted. Please be clear about that. There was, in the opinion of the State's Attorney, an aggregation of compelling evidence that he broke the law. The deal he made included no admission of guilt. He is free to assert his innocence. We, the citizens, cannot be 100% certain of his guilt because the evidence against him was not contested in a court of law. There is the fact of the evidence, though. There were sworn statements by police officers, sworn statements by complainants and telephone records. I believe that it is incumbent upon Mr. Burke to give us a full, credible explanation of all the circumstances that lead to his arrest if he wants to become our First Selectman again. Were he not asking for our votes we would have no business asking him anything about this ever again and it might rightly be forgotten. And just because we want to know doesn't mean he has to tell us. He is asking us to restore him to office and that is a request for the public trust. We need the facts as he sees them to decide if we want to extend that trust. If he has an alternate narrative to explain how all these police statements and documents are in error, I am sure the fair minded voters of Bethel would like to hear it. Then we would judge which explanation of the facts, whose side of the story, we choose to believe. Full disclosure: I voted for Matt Knickerbocker. So far, I am quite satisfied with the job he is doing and I am likely to vote for him again.
Paul Improta April 06, 2011 at 02:24 PM
Dan, you still don't get it. Out of his own selfish ambition, which obviously continues to this day, Bob Burke has had a sense of entitlement, and a belief that everything he thinks is right, and everyone else is wrong. "Staggering" near upset (no pun intended) is the sort of hyperbole we can all do without. Burke was a seated incumbent, and aside from rumors and his misleading of people who were loyal to him, he was able to muster enough votes to get Knickerbocker elected - the same guy you lament, you and your crew of four elected. The Republican leadership owes Bob Burke nothing. Bob Burke is yesterday's news, and today's news only in a negative way. He continues to deny his wrongdoing when incidents of his wrongdoing are recorded in the public record. Burke's announcement is all about payback and retribution. His high water mark in politics was the day he was re-elected to his second term, and it's been downhill since. He was a Republican in name only while he served, and continues to be a rogue element to the detriment of the town, and that will be his legacy.
Karl April 06, 2011 at 02:49 PM
Mr. Burke may not have been convicted, but he was arrested and brought to court. The Police, both the Bethel PD and the State Poice seem to be competent, capable invesigators who don't bring spurious claims to court--they can find that no crime was committed and drop the issue. For example, Mr. Gaita has made at least two seperate complaints to the Police about his fellow republicans that went nowhere - the complaints were investigated and no charges were filed. And after the Police found no crime was committed, Mr. Gaita took one of his complaints to the State Elections Enforcement Commission, who didn't even bother to give it a number and put it in their system, they just dropped it. Let's not forget that Mr. Burke presented a document at (IIRC) a Board of Selectmen's meeting that accused another republican of illegal activity, the police investigated, and that republican was not charged. How much have these investigations cost our town and our state? I thought Burke, Gaita and their cronies say they want lower government spending.
andi April 06, 2011 at 03:46 PM
Yes I agree with you Bob, I mean there is this claim that it was quicker to take the AR but check out those Community Service Hours and 15 months of probation! So anyone who understands anything knows that AR is offered to first time offenders in order to keep them from having an official police record (and I believe was a Democratic Bill made into law- but I might be wrong). That record however, is in existence for that 15 months. Additionally, I have heard of Community Service and anger management but these are the 2 things he had to do in addition to completion of the 15 months of AR Probation. While I believe everyone in most cases, deserves a second chance- This sounds a lot to me like the guy that beats his wife and gets the same and then denies he ever hit his wife well because he got the AR. While I would not vote for Burke (ever) - I could respect him a bit more if he just said well I was wrong and now because of this law I have a second chance and I have learned and changed. You can not get me to believe that the 150 hours of community service and the 15 months of probation (which I think is a part of AR) as well as those Anger Management Hours - took less time than a trial would.
John Q. Public April 06, 2011 at 03:57 PM
Put Burke back to work!!! This situation is about as simple as you can get. The last election and the actions taken by Mr. Knickerbocker while in office have made it crystal clear that Robert Burke was the greatest First Selectman in Bethel’s history. When the greatest of all time wants the job you give it to him. We did not know just how good Burke was until we did not have him anymore. The man was not convicted of anything, the allegations did not relate to anything having to do with the job he did as Selectman and all charges were dismissed. The man is innocent and we will be much better off when he is elected in November.
John Q. Public April 06, 2011 at 04:04 PM
Its quite simple- even for a man like you. Someone made a complaint to police, the police then took statements from this person and those statements contained false information. The Police would not know this person is lying, as they cannot read minds to find out what really happened, nor can they look into someone;s mind and know the true motivations behind what they do. A complaint was made and then procedure was followed and the requirements of their jobs required they seek an arrest warrant. There is not one person amoung us who has the ability to always tell when someone is lying or that they are telling the 100% truth.
Gabrielle Reynolds April 06, 2011 at 04:11 PM
John Q. Public April 06, 2011 at 04:13 PM
To Peter: This is a case of "he said" "she said"- I am sure that Mr. Burke will provide an explanation but that will not change the fact it is one word against another and people will have to decide what to believe. To Hank: Your statements are inane. Your logic dictates that everyone who is arrested is guilty. You say police have the ability to find out when no crime is committed- this is ridiculous many times arrests are made and the people are later proven innocent. If police always get it right then this would not happen. In addition many serious crimes go unsolved- if police have the ability to always determine the right answer regarding no crime being committed then this should work the other way and they should always be able to solve crimes. It is clear you have a personal animus against Bob Burke. You realize that his actions as Selectman were beyond reproach and could not be criticized so you talk about things which have nothing to do with the job of Selectman and mentions people making complaints to police. You may find it a tough pill to swallow but the majority does not- that being Bob Burke will win in November.
Bother April 06, 2011 at 04:36 PM
Please, Mr. Public, remember that this legal issues (true or false) was not the only reason citizens voted for candidates other than the incumbent in the last election for First Selectman. There are always issues involving governing philosophy, spending priorities and suitable temperament for the job that voters assess. I wish Mr. Burke the best in his campaign and hope that all the relevant issues are fully discussed. I do believe the legal matter was relevant to job performance because it involved (according to the police) requests by the Chief of Police for Mr. Burke to refrain from certain activities or face legal repercussions. Then the specific requests by the Chief were ignored (again, according to the police). Now, the Chief may be wrong; I don't know. The local police have always seemed like pretty decent guys to me. But the First Selectman's ability to work with our police department in a cooperative way is important to the execution of his job responsibilities. This is my opinion and I know only what I read in the papers. If there is a different take on this I am interested in hearing it. I have an interest in having a law abiding First Selectman and I have an interest in being able to trust my local police. Anyone who would care to shed additional light on this?
andi April 06, 2011 at 04:48 PM
And can we please talk about the phone records (aka the smoking gun!)
Paul Improta April 06, 2011 at 05:23 PM
I see Mr. Crnic, aka "John Q. Public" is in the house, and serving his Burke koolaid.
Karl April 06, 2011 at 07:51 PM
Don't know if Crnic is "John Q. Public". But the response from John Q Public to my previous post really makes no sense. JQ draws a lot of conclusions that are not correct, and in my opinion, do not make sense. My opinion is that the guy posting as "John Q. Public" is just an internet troll, and the best way to deal with him is to ignore him, and perhaps laugh at his postings as the get more and more humerous.
Joan Reynolds April 06, 2011 at 08:07 PM
Whoever it is must be delusional. Bethel deserves a leader who has integrity, brains, and an ability to work with people and we have that now. He represents our town with dignity which is a nice change. Let's move on folks, not backward.
Bother April 06, 2011 at 10:53 PM
Is Mr. Burke currently a registered Republican or a registered Pro-Bethel? The article gives no indication of whether or not Mr. Burke has any intention of seeking the Republican nomination, as some above have suggested. I remember that he sought re-election in 2009 as the Pro-Bethel candidate after losing the Republican Party primary and the Independent Party primary. Will it be a third party run again or will there be a bid to become the Republican nominee as he was in his two successful campaigns? Is there any substance to the talk about a Bethel Tea Party line on the ballot this fall?
andi April 06, 2011 at 11:01 PM
Who really knows but it is my best guess that if he can't get the GOP nod he will take what he can get. Sorry folks I am over this- and really he sounds just like those guys that abuse their wives and children and then tries to act like he did nothing. No more of this for me- I have better things to do.
Joan Reynolds April 07, 2011 at 12:50 AM
Darlene Woodman April 07, 2011 at 12:57 AM
ALL OF YOU - GROW UP! Is there really a need for insults in order for you to make your point? I believe you have filled the board with your opinions, and that's your right. Putting others down is NOT your right. You just lost any ounce of respect that I had for you.
Andy April 08, 2011 at 05:45 PM
Gaita, do you have half a brain? Here you are, opening a new business in town, and you're spending all your energy on your personal political vendetta against the first selectman. Blah, blah, blah... I have news for you, Gaita, people like the guy. They think he's doing a good job. Why would you risk alienating people in this town with your constant, incessant personal attacks? Do you think people won't connect you to your business? Here's a thought: You just took over Bethel Cycle's old store. They have over 100 bike riders, racers and workout nuts in their club. They'e a perfect match for your new business. But I doubt those guys would have anything to do with you, because the first selectman is a friend of theirs. They don't like what you're doing. See how this works? If you were smart, you'd shut your mouth and take your politics privately into the voting booth. But I doubt you'll do that. My guess is you'll be looking for someone else to blame when your business goes belly-up.
Karl April 08, 2011 at 06:07 PM
Andy, Did you see that Snap Fitness is opening a location on Durant Avenue? http://www.snapfitness.com/betheldowntown/
Michael Duff April 08, 2011 at 11:03 PM
Leadership in Bethel: Chad McCollam, Frank Clark . Lord knows I disagreed with them so many times but history will validate my observation. Those two men were outstanding leaders. The rest of us pale by comparision.
Taking Notes April 22, 2011 at 04:15 AM
Observation: Democrats will always resort to personal attacks when backed into a corner. Case in point- Andy in response to Dan Gaita: >>If you were smart, you'd shut your mouth and take your politics privately into the voting booth. But I doubt you'll do that. My guess is you'll be looking for someone else to blame when your business goes belly-up. Nice manners, Andy. Thank you for living up to the stereotype.
Taking Notes April 22, 2011 at 04:18 AM
Observation to Darlene Woodman: Your liberal passive-aggressive hypocrisy and blatant ignorance to Dan Gaita being insulted by Andy is astounding. Dan is wanting people to grow up. Wow. Such an offensive thing to say. My goodness. Dan must be one of those hate-filled Republicans we here so much about on MSNBC. I am quite sure Mr. Gaita is less than concerned with losing your "respect".


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