By Richard Weizel
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (Reuters) - A former Connecticut mayor has been granted a new hearing in a bid to have his 37-year prison sentence for sexually abusing two young girls thrown out, with a federal judge allowing him to present his case that he had inadequate counsel at his trial.
U.S. District Court Judge Stefan Underhill of New Haven on Thursday asked former Waterbury Mayor Philip Giordano's current lawyer, Aaron Romano, and prosecutors to agree on a date for the hearing by Monday.
"He (Giordano) is elated with the opportunity to address the court," Romano said on Friday.
Giordano, a Republican, said in court documents he was never informed by his lawyer at the time, Andrew Bowman, that prosecutors had offered a 15-year plea deal before the 2003 trial, and that if he had known about the deal he would have taken it.
Bowman has submitted an affidavit stating he verbally advised Giordano of the plea offer.
Giordano, 52, was convicted of sexually abusing the two girls, ages 8 and 10, while serving as mayor of Waterbury, located about 30 miles (50 km) southwest of the state capital Hartford.
"Even though Giordano made false statements in the past, I cannot rule definitively on his credibility, or that of Attorney Bowman, based on the paper record alone. Thus an evidentiary hearing is necessary to resolve this issue," Underhill wrote.
Giordano's previous attempts to have his sentence vacated have failed.
FBI agents had been conducting an investigation into possible mob-linked corruption in Waterbury when they found evidence that Giordano arranged for a prostitute to bring her two young relatives to perform oral sex on him in various places including a police car, his law office and City Hall, authorities said.
(Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Will Dunham)