Tag Archive | "Carlos Costa"

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State Rep Calls On Mayor To Disclose Records

HARTFORD — Hartford State Rep. Kelvin Roldan today called on Mayor Pedro Segarra to release all city documents concerning the decision of his administration and the city council to authorize the payment of $485,000 to Carlos Costa and his firm USA Contractors in September of 2010.

In a statement to the press, Roldan stated that Costa was denied Accelerated Rehabilitation today in Hartford Superior Court for his alleged role in a bribery scheme involving the very contract the Segarra administration authorized additional payments for in 2010.

“Mayor Segara defended this $485,000 payment to Costa in September by stating it was in the financial interests of the city. However most citizens find it hard to understand why the Mayor and city council would  think it was in the best interests of the city to pay nearly half a million dollars to a contractor accused of bribery, who was at the center of a scandal that seriously damaged the public trust in city government. Segarra should release all documents concerning this settlement to the public as immediately. Only through full disclosure of all documents, including e-mails, letters, briefs and memos will the public have the chance to make their own judgment about the soundness of the decision by the Mayor and council to authorize this nearly half a million dollar payment.” Roldan stated

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Day 4: Mayor Perez On Trial

Costa Defends Work, Offers New Information

HARTFORD  — On day four in the state’s case against Mayor Eddie Perez, defense attorneys unveiled information—some that surprised prosecutors–to weaken claims that Perez knowingly received a bribe from a city contractor.

Perez is charged with bribe receiving from city contractor Carlos Costa of  USA Contractors. Prosecutors claimed that Perez received $40,000 worth of home renovations to his home on Bloomfield Avenue and intervened on Costa’s behalf in matters related to the Park Street development project.

After allowing Costa to tell his side of the story about his tenuous relationship with the city’s Department of Public Works,  Attorney Hubert Santos gave a clear sequence of possible events that led up to Costa’s work on the mayor’s house until its completion in December 2006.

 Santos told the story this way.

Costa had access to Perez since 2003.  Santos offered that a blown up colored photo of Costa, Perez and Julio Mendoza, former executive director of the Spanish American Merchant Association, were of buddies. The posed picture, Santos said, was at a fundraiser event organized by Costa at his nightclub. Costa agreed.

Costa met Perez and his wife Maria at Home Depot in West Hartford and during a conversation there, Costa learned that the mayor and his wife had ordered countertops from Home Depot. Costa then told Perez that he should cancel the order because he could do the work cheaper. Costa invited them to his showroom on Airport Road.

Costa said he didn’t remember that conversation. But he can always do a job cheaper.

Costa began renovations at the mayor’s house about April 2005.  It was his first home improvement job because he mostly did commercial properties. Initially, the job was only to be the kitchen countertop. Then Costa said he and Maria talked about the bathroom and Costa told Maria that the job “won’t be a big problem.” But then it turned into a big and drawn out problem. For days, Costa’s trucks emblazoned with his company name “USA Contractors” was parked in the mayor’s driveway and visible for all to see, Santos said, because the mayor wasn’t hiding anything.

Then Maria became ill. Costa’s job at the mayor’s house was interrupted. Then after the mayor’s wife was out of the hospital, the mayor asked for a bill “sometime in fall 2006.” After the job at the house was finished in December 2006, Costa started to gather information from memory for a bill because he wasn’t keeping a record of the job. But he was unaware of the investigation at that point.

Santos also asked Costa if he remembered that Julio Mendoza asked for a bill for Perez. Costa agreed with most of Santos’ story, including the fact that he failed to mention that to the grand jury.

The prosecutor revealed that Costa had the mayor’s cell phone and called him several times during 2005 and 2006. And that Costa did not expect the mayor to pay. Prosecutors claimed that it was only after Perez learned about an investigation he sought a bill and took out a mortgage to pay Costa.

During the time Costa’s company worked on Perez’s house, Costa was still trying to gain “more access” to Perez.  But he never received it, Santos said. So Costa had to use the mayor’s cell phone because he couldn’t reach Perez at city hall. Costa agreed.

Santos hammered out the point that Costa really didn’t get more access to the mayor. And the mayor refused to pay Costa the claim he put in to the Hartford’s Department of Public Works. That’s why Costa is now suing the city for about $2 million.

The suit claims that Costa did work above and beyond the contracted amount because of the city’s mismanagement and failure to manage unanticipated delays and demands of the project, such as removing materials from underground and delays caused by Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, the busiest period of the shopping season for merchants on Park Street. The claims totaled more than $900,000

“Did the mayor help you get paid for these claims?” Santos asked.

“No,” Costa replied.

Costa also sent several emails to get appointments with the mayor. One email was to invite the mayor to an event he was having for several Dominicans. But the mayor was busy, Santos said.

Then he sent an email to Perez’s executive assistant, Barbara Crockett, which Santos had Costa read to the court.

The email says: “Please don’t forget me.”

Costa is expected to take the stand again on Tuesday.

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Day 3: Mayor Perez Trial Reveals Carlos Costa

HARTFORD — A picture of city contractor Carlos Costa emerged on day three of the state’s case against Mayor Eddie Perez for bribery and larceny.

Costa, a soft-spoken man of Portuguese and Brazilian descent, is the owner of USA Contractors Inc and the state’s star witness. He testified all day as Prosecutor Michael Gailor hammered home the point that Costa did extensive kitchen and bathroom work in Perez’s modest house on Bloomfield Avenue.

It all began when Perez and his wife showed up at Costa’s showroom on Airport Road and said they were interested in a kitchen countertop. Costa said he felt he should handle the work himself. But he never requested a deposit or offered an invoice to Perez and his wife, Maria.

Costa said that chit chat conversations with Maria led to him adding a steam shower, then tiling and then a Jacuzzi. The work meandered along and was then interrupted by Maria’s illness. She had a brain aneurysm and was admitted to St. Francis Hospital. At no time did Perez or Maria offer to pay for the work he was doing, Costa said. And he didn’t expect any payment from Perez because he figured “it was the cost of doing business with the city.”

Costa, who is facing bribery charges, said he hopes that by giving testimony the state will consider giving him leniency.When Costa stepped down from the stand for a lunch break, his eyes were peeled to the floor as Perez stood up and stared at him, as if waiting for eye contact. There was none.

Then at 3:35 p.m. it was the defense’s turn to question Costa. And the story expanded. Defense Attorney Hubert Santos revealed that Costa had developed a close relationship with Maria during the long renovation. In the summer of 2005 when Maria became ill and went to the hospital, Costa visited her and left a card with her son. The card read in part: Dear Maria…We missed you at the house…. The work is almost done.”

Santos said that when Costa went back over to Perez’s house he spoke to Perez who said he wanted to take care of the bill but it might take a while. According to defense attorney Hubert Santos, Costa said to Perez: “Don’t worry, take care of your wife.” Costa said he did not recall that conversation. But then Santos asked: did the mayor at any time offer to pay you? Cost said yes. When Costa gave Perez the bill, he said Perez was “shocked.”

Then Santos digged deeper and gave us the real powerful person buried inside the bear of a man that is Costa. Costa had called the mayor when he was in his tussle with the department of public works. He would usually get Perez’s aide, Charles Crocini, an attorney and an engineer who was at that time mediating the caustic relationship between Costa and the DPW, a relationship that was “at a point of no return.”  

In addition, Costa up until 2007 had never done home improvement. His main business was commercial contracting and he has been working with the city since mid 1990s. His first big job was a garage on Church Street.

He has even worked on the Groton Substation, the largest demolition contract, ever, he said. And he had always put in competitive bids for contracts and never felt the need to bribe anyone, he said.Costa was also a big-time fundraiser for the mayor in his 2001, 2003 and 2007 election campaigns. His relationship with the mayor “had evolved” from just acquaintance in the 1990s to the status of “papi” in 2007. “Papi” is another word for friend or buddy. Perez would help Costa out if he thought Costa was right, Santos said. And if Perez didn’t thought Costa was right, he would not, Santos said.

Then Costa replied:”I was never wrong.”

Costa’s reply triggered laughter in the courtroom, but it was also tinged with arrogance.  And his response made some observers realize that there was a giant behind the gentle voice.

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