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Marash Gojcaj Witness Tampering Trial Begins

The tampering with a witness trial against former Danbury Restauranteur Marash Gojcaj started in Danbury Superior Court Tuesday.

The man Marash Gojcaj called before his murder trial and conviction said Gojcaj started the call with small talk, but then talked about damaging testimony that could arise in Gojcaj's murder trial.

Steven V. Nanai, a former waiter at Gusto's Ristorante, 275 Main St., gave a statement to police in 2007 that said Gojcaj had a gun and once shot at people on a Danbury street. He said Marash got so angry one time he pounded on a cooler in the restaurant until it was dented. (The jury didn't hear that.)

Nanai said when Gojcaj called him on July 12, 2010, Gojcac said that testimony was the only damaging testimony against him. Nanai was one of the prosecution witnesses in Gojcaj's murder trial, which led to his conviction in 2010 and his sentencing in March 2011 to 50 years in prison.

Now Gojcaj stands trial for calling Nanai, and the state says "tampering with a witness," is the charge that arose from that phone call.

Defense Attorney Stephan Seeger chipped away at Nanai's credibility by implying Nanai was cooperating with police on this case to win a pardon for earlier drug convictions. Seeger tried to show jurors that Nanai wasn't really influenced by Gojcaj's phone call.

Nanai stopped working at Gusto's after the disappearance of Gojcaj's partner, who was also his uncle, Joe Vuli. Vuli's real name was Zef Vulevic, but everyone called him Joe Vuli. Nanai moved from Connecticut in 2008.

"He stated he wanted to talk to me. If I was called to testify, I wouldn't say anything that was damaging," Nanai recalled.  "I don't want anything that would be damaging," Gojcaj told him, according to Nanai.

"What did you understand the defendant to mean?" asked Assistant State's Attorney Sharmese Hodge.

"If I was called to testify, he wanted to make sure I didn't say anything damaging," Nanai said.

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