Saying Wayne Cooke acted “incredibly foolishly,” but not necessarily criminally, a state prosecutor yesterday agreed not to pursue reckless endangerment charges stemming from Cooke’s decision to smear chemically harmful bird gel on a score of political signs he had purchased and put up around Branford.
David J. Strollo, the supervisory assistant state’s attorney in New Haven, said, however, that his decision was conditional. “The state will reopen the case if it happens again.” The state agreed to nolle the case, which means Cooke will have the charges erased from his record if he does not commit another crime over the next 13 months. If he does, the prosecutor will reinstate the charges. Technically that means the case is open until then.
Strollo personally came to Superior Court on Elm Street yesterday morning to handle this one case and to explain to Judge Susan Connors his reasons for not prosecuting it. Strollo and Cooke’s attorney, Walt Spader of the Marcus Law Firm, had conferred about the case before the outcome unfolded in court.
Cooke’s arrest on Nov. 15 stemmed from his admitted decision to smear the bird gel on “DaRos Dishonest” signs he had erected in the days before the Nov. 8 election for first selectman in Branford. Cooke purchased hundreds of the signs, but they kept disappearing. This was his way to prevent theft. Cooke has been engaged in a long-standing feud with First Selectman Anthony “Unk” DaRos over the tax status of his farm.
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