Tag Archive | "Mayor Eddie Perez on Trial"


200 Supporters Write Judge Before Perez’s Sentencing Day

HARTFORD —The Associated Press is reporting that major top leaders are writing letters to a Hartford Superior Judge in support of former city mayor, Eddie Perez.

Major players at influential Connecticut companies and institutions are going to bat for him, according to documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

More than 200 people have submitted letters to the judge supporting Perez, including current or former top leaders of The Hartford Financial Services, United Technologies Corp.,University of Hartford and the Archdiocese of Hartford.

Perez, 52,  was convicted in June of five charges related to bribery and extortion investigations. He faces up to 60 years in prison when Hartford Superior Court Judge Julia Dewey sentences him Tuesday.

Read more here.

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Hartford Residents Await Signs Of “A New Day”; Push Impeachment

HARTFORD — Mayor Eddie Perez is still in control, according to one resident and longtime critic Hyacinth Yennie.

That’s because he has yet to send an official letter of resignation to the city council, even though many of his detractors clamor an end to his leadership after a  six-member jury found Perez guilty of five felony charges: bribe receiving, attempted first-degree larceny by extortion, accessory to evidence tampering and two conspiracy counts. He was acquitted of tampering with evidence.

A few residents on Monday attended a public hearing at city hall, expecting a definitive signal of “a new day” for the city. But seeing none, the conversation then centered on whether the city council would have seven votes to impeach the mayor.

With no formal communication with the city council, the city’s leadership  is left in limbo.

“In the interest of the people, the city council needs to act fast,” said mayoral candidate Stan McCaulay. “The city is in limbo because politicians are looking out for their best interest.”

Councilman Matt Ritter joined the chorus of residents who want swift action.

“There’s no middle. It’s either he’s mayor or he’s not,” Ritter said after the hearing.

Ritter also said he expects there will be seven votes to impeach the mayor if there’s no official announcement. This process would take at least a month.

At least seven council members signed a statement on Friday announcing plans “to act”  if Perez fails to communicate by Monday. Absent were Calixto Torres and Veronica Airey-Wilson.

Shortly afterward, the mayor’s communication director on Friday sent out an email announcing the mayor’s plan to “relinquish” his duties.

“I’ve decided that it is not in the best interest of the city and my family for me to continue my duties as Mayor during the appeal of my case,” Perez said in the email. “I will formally notify the City Council shortly of my decision to relinquish my duties.”

If the mayor decides not to resign an impeachment process could consume the summer months.  But that seems unlikely because the mayor has been communicating with Council President Pedro Segarra about how the process will unfold in the upcoming days, said Councilman Jim Boucher.

“We anticipate communication that will lead us to the final steps,” Boucher said.

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Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez’s Guilty Verdict Has Familiar Ring To Some Residents

By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

News Analysis

Yesterday was a sad day in Hartford. But it wasn’t for the reasons some might think.

Hartford’s Mayor Eddie Perez was found guilty of five felony charges: bribe receiving, attempted first-degree larceny by extortion, accessory to evidence tampering and two conspiracy counts. He was acquitted of tampering with evidence.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionMany folks are disgusted by the six-member jury verdict. That’s because some Hartford residents believe the mayor is not guilty. And they have plenty of reasons to believe Perez “did nothing wrong.”

Their belief stems from examining the state’s thin case against Perez. Prosecutors began investigation in 2007 after Perez sent a letter to the State Chief State Attorney Kevin Kane’s office asking him to investigate city developer Joseph Citino.  In addition, the state began and ended with two rumors: Perez had city contractor Carlos Costa working on his house for free. And he repaid North End political boss Abraham Giles for securing votes.

The state, after investing almost two years and spending millions, failed to unearth any evidence of deep corruption—the kind of stuff news junkies salivate on. Instead, for more than two weeks, the media watched prosecutors mount a case filled with assumptions about a sequence of events that could and should have been interpreted other ways. For example, during testimony, the state’s key witnesses revealed that Costa’s work on Perez’s house was his first home renovation project.  Costa never felt it was “the cost of doing business with the city” when he was raking in lucrative city contracts before Perez took office. Also, Costa was indeed a family friend and longtime contributor to Perez’s political campaign. So it was not far-fetched that Perez would think he was doing anything wrong if his friend, who happened to be a city contractor, worked on his house.

Though Perez might have believed that, however, he was grossly naïve. His judgment on the matter revealed a deep flaw and blatant ignorance of the law. And unfortunately ignorance of the law is not a defense. The flaw is that he relied on other people too much. And he was distracted by his wife’s illness. People close to him should have guided him on personal decisions that affected his public role.

As for the state’s claim that Perez asked Citino to “take care of Giles,” it is easy to see that if a squatter is on a property a developer wants, he had to actually take care of the unwanted tenant. It’s illegal to evict someone off a property even if the tenant fails to produce a lease. According to prosecutors, Citino confronted Giles, a shrewd businessman. And presumptuous as it may be, Giles wanted money to take care of his family “for perpetuity.” Who could blame him for countering a low-balled figure? That seeminlgy could have been the alternative and plausible explanation for the defense.

But a jury of mostly suburban residents agreed with the state’s assessment of the facts. And most journalists might agreed, too, when you take into consideration that even the appearance of conflict must be avoided at all cost, though it can sometimes be difficult.

Perez’s story is a cautionary tale for all politicians who might want to take a page out of former state Rep. Wilber Smith’s playbook when he was at the state Capitol.  Someone allegedly tried to bribe the now deceased North End activist. He called a press conference to announce the attempted bribe before the alleged bribery could flip the story and accuse him.

But political playbook aside, some residents are disgusted by the verdict because it has a familiar ring to it and fuels a perception of an unjust system. According to them, Perez confronted a few political enemies who decided that he must be put into his place.  And this is political payback.

They also surmised that the city’s first Latino mayor is the latest victim of a judicial system that favors some citizens over others. And that the court’s default position is to find the favored persons credible.  This default mechanism has been built into the system over centuries and is hard to overcome.

Therefore, the system that convicted Perez is not OK to most people of color. And for some Hartford residents, Perez is not guilty because of that. They know Perez loves the city. And though he has had to “throw some people under the bus,” he is a tireless worker who wants to lift the city out of its decades-old morass of ethnic, political warfare, crippling poverty and wanton despair.

And it is, therefore, it is apropos to wish the Perez family well as they console each other over what was a very sad day for them and for the city if Hartford.

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Mayor Eddie Perez Found Guilty

HARTFORD — A six-member jury today found Mayor Eddie Perez guilty of five felony charges after six weeks of testimony in the state’s corruption case alleging bribery and larceny.

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 10. Perez faces up to 55 years in prison, with each of the five counts carrying a minimum of one year.

 He was convicted of bribe receiving, attempted first-degree larceny by extortion, accessory to evidence tampering and two conspiracy counts — all felonies. But he was acquitted of tampering with evidence.

A native of Puerto Rico, Perez was Hartford’s first Latino mayor. He ascended to the capital city’s top post after he garnered respect for overseeing the Trinity College corridor development. Shortly after, Perez ran for election in 2000 and captured about 70 percent of the vote. In 2004, he became strong mayor and won his second election with 43 percent of the vote. 

Today, he emerged from a packed courtroom and said he was innocent of the Chief State Attorney’s charges against him.

“I’m extremely disappointed,” Perez said. “I’m maintaining my innocence.”

After the verdict was read, Perez’s wife, Maria, collapsed and released a deep wail in court. Paramedics gave her oxygen and she then went straight to church with Perez.

Perez was arrested last January for accepting home improvements from a city contractor Carlos Costa in return more access. State Prosecutor Michael Gailor said Perez paid $20,000 for $40,000 worth of renovations.  Prosecutors also charged Perez for encouraging developer Joseph Citino to pay $100,000 to Hartford’s North End political boss, Abraham Giles.

Costa testified in court that renovating the mayor’s house was the “cost of me doing business with the city.” Gailor maintained that Perez repeatedly intervened in matters to help Costa, such as keeping Costa on the 2.4 million Park Street project despite shoddy work and city workers’ call to fire Costa. Prosecutors also claimed that Perez pressed city workers to expedite payments to Costa. Perez’s attorney Hubert Santos told the jury that Perez had to intervene through a point person, Charles Crocini, because the relationship between Costa and the city’s Department of Public Works had deteriorated.  And it would have “cost a fortune” had Perez not intervened.

Santos also pointed out that the city was notorious for paying contractors up to 60 days late. The defense also demonstrated that Costa did not receive more access, as he was always calling the mayor’s office and at times would  not get a return phone call.

Santos also pointed out that Costa was mostly communicating with Perez’s wife about the renovations, not Perez. And  the Perez family did not think they were committing a crime by asking a family friend to do renovations on their house. In fact, Santos said, Costa’s USA Contractors Inc trucks were usually parked outside the mayor’s house for all to see.

Perez was arrested again in September for larceny. Prosecutors said that Perez encouraged Joseph Citino to “take care” of   former state Rep. Abraham Giles for the parking lot Giles occupied.

 The parking lot was next to the so-called “Butt Ugly” building at the corner of Trumbull and Main streets. Citino had purchased the property and had plans to develop it into a condo and shopping complex.

But Giles, who had leased a parking lot on the property from the city and then subleased for profit, was an obstacle to Citino’s plans.  According to prosecutors, the mayor arranged for Citino to pay Giles $100,000 as part of the sale. Santos said Citino, a convicted felon, was not the type of person who could be extorted. He maintained that the $100, 000 Giles requested was comparable to the $130,000 Giles would had garnered had he cashed out on business arrangements he had prior to Perez being elected.

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Day 9: Developer Testifies in Mayor Perez’s Larceny Case

Joseph Citino testifies in Mayor Eddie Perez's trial in Hartford Superior Court

HARTFORD — Hartford’s long-time politico Abraham Giles is a businessman.  

Giles runs parking lots throughout the city, one of which is at 1143 Main St., next to what’s known as the “Butt Ugly” building that sits on 1161 Main St. and is at the corner Trumbull Street. This eye sore also abuts the northern part of downtown Hartford and faces Interstate 84. 

So when 45-year old Joseph Citino, a Hartford native and three-time convicted felon turned developer, purchased that building, he had to call Giles. In that phone call with Citino, the octogenarian brought to bear his political and business acumen shaped by a lifetime of experiences in Hartford, according to Citino’s testimony on the ninth day of the state’s corruption case against Mayor Eddie Perez.

The state is accusing Perez of conspiracy to commit larceny by extortion. 

Citino testified that he wanted the property so he could develop the building into what he imagined should be at that corner: a six-story condo high rise with retail below. But he could not move forward until he took care of Giles, a known supporter of Perez, he said. 

As the co-owner of Providian Builders, Citino said taking care of Giles was one of the four criteria the city set out for his company before he could develop the building into what he imagined should be at that corner: a six-story condo high rise with retail below.   

Perez, he said, told him to “take care of Abe Giles, or there is no next step.”  The other criteria were for Citino to secure the property, to provide a second rendering of his proposed development and to add an awning to the proposed structure. He also had to buy the city-owned land that houses Giles’s parking lot. 

When Citino called Giles, the North End powerbroker began with prices and terms that perplexed Citino. The end result, Citino said, was that Giles would “have his hands in” his pocket for perpetuity–meaning forever.    Citino then told Giles to “cut the bull—-.” “What would it take to vacate the property?” he then asked Giles.

 Giles initially wanted $250,000 because he had children and had to think about their future, Citino said. He then offered $25,000 to Giles to terminate his lease. Giles countered with $100, 000 offer to vacate. Citino agreed to pay Giles $100, 000.

 Citino said he agreed because among other things, Giles said he could “make or break the deal” because he knows Perez. So he felt that he had to take care of Giles to move forward in the plans to develop the property.

Then Citino found out Giles didn’t have a lease on the property and that it was the city’s responsibility to get Giles off the property. The city wanted nothing to do with that mess, Citino said. And he was left with a contract that offered to pay off Giles $100,000. When Citino took into account that large sum, plus $1.1 million he paid for the building and the cost to get rid of the asbestos and demolished the building, he balked. 

In addition, he believed the plan had the green light until he received a phone call from Jeff Cohen, a Hartford Courant reporter who called to tell Citino that he no longer had an agreement with the city to develop the area.

Citino said Cohen called about 100 times looking for a comment, to which he replied no comment. Cohen also told Citino that he should make a comment because the mayor and his former chief of staff Matt Hennessy denied knowledge of the agreement he made with Giles.

 The defense attorney Hubert Santos objected to Citino’s hearsay statements about what Giles and others said, saying the state has failed to provide sufficient evidence that constitutes conspiracy to commit theft of property and that most of the state’s case is based on hearsay testimony, which they can’t cross examine because Giles is not being called as a witness in this case. 

The state disagreed with Santos’ theory, and the Court allowed the state to continue its questioning. Citino also testified that after his experience with Giles and the city, he learned Perez had sent a letter to  Kevin Kane, the chief state attorney to ask that Citino be investigated for possible wrongdoing, he said. Perez claimed Citino tried to defraud taxpayers.

Citino  also received a letter from the state’s attorney’s office saying he would not be prosecuted during the current investigation as long as he “tells the truth.” About 20 years ago, Citino was convicted of distribution of drugs, counterfeiting and sales of fire arms.  He owns dozens of buildings across the city and at least one restaurant. His attorney was William Gerace, the same attorney hired by Carlos Costa of USA Contractors Inc. Costa said he worked on the mayor’s kitchen and bathroom to get more access.

With his conditional immunity spelled out by Prosecutor Michael Gailor, Citino turned to Perez and said Perez made “false allegations” against him, which was a mistake because in the end, Perez now faces charges of corruption.

“I wasn’t charged in this crime, he was,” Citino said.  

He is expected to continue is testimony on Wednesday. 


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Day 7: Mayor Perez On Trial, Judge Crushes Mayor Perez’s Hope To Testify

HARTFORD —  Should judicial efficiency trump one’s constitutional right to testify on his behalf?

That’s the question posed to Hartford Superior Court Judge Julia Dewey on day seven of Mayor Eddie Perez’s trial for alleged bribery and larceny.

With the state’s bribery case against Perez winding down after 16 witnesses testified, Attorney Hubert Santos asked the court to split the two cases and have Perez testify on his own behalf  at this crucial juncture. Santos said the combination of two cases poses substantial challenges to the defense and violates his client’s constitutional rights.

“Since that is a real concern, this will be the time to cure it,” Santos said. “It just seems to me that the line should be drawn right here.”

After hearing the prosecutor’s objection, Dewey denied Santos’s request with a swift tap of her gavel on the wooden bench, crushing Perez’s hope of testifying in his defense.

State prosecutors objected to Santos’ motion to separate the cases. They argued that Santos’ plea was untimely and should’ve been asked when the state first sought to combine both cases. In addition, said Prosecutor Michael Gailor, “This appears to me the defense trying to control the course of the case.”

Santos disagreed, saying the request time is not unusual.

“We have a pretty good sense of what the state’s bribery case looks like in terms of evidence and witnesses’ credibility,” Santos said.

Perez’s attorney said the decisions about whether to testify in a criminal case is usually reserved until the end of the prosecutors’ case. If Perez were to testify now, without the case being separated, he would be faced with a litany of issues that would arise in one case and not the other. In addition, the jury will have to wait two weeks before hearing the defense for the bribery case—and only after prosecutors present their larceny case.

The state is accusing Perez of receiving a bribe from Carlos Costa. Prosecutors say Perez and in return intervened in the relationship between Costa and the city’s Department of Public Works.  To date, prosecutors have called 16 witnesses, including city contractor Costa, his vendors, workers and city employees, and consultants. Today they called Inspector Michael Sullivan, who prepared the arrest warrant.

Costa’s testimony revealed that he offered to install a kitchen countertop for the mayor and his wife and he said that it would be “no problem” to do the work cheaper. The initial work of just kitchen countertop evolved into bathroom renovations. He said he had no plans to bill the mayor.

Because of a death in the family of one juror, the court adjourned at 3: 30 today and will resume on Tuesday.

Check back tomorrow for more on Inspector Sullivan’s testimony.

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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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Day 2: Mayor Perez On Trial

HARTFORD — “What the f!@*  is going on here?” Mayor Eddie Perez allegedly said back in 2006 as he waved a letter in the air.

Buphen Patel walked into the mayor’s office, puzzled. And then Perez handed him the letter.

That was just a snippet of  Patel’s testimony on day two of  the state corruption case against Perez, who is on trial for bribery and larceny. 

Patel is the former director of the city’s public works department.  On Thursday he said he only glanced at the letter and didn’t have time to read all the details. But he noticed it was apparently “a letter from Costa.”

The incident in the mayor’s office with Patel, Perez and his aide Charles Crocini occured shortly after Patel authorized his assistant John McGrane to write the May 8th 2006 letter to Costa’s bond company, which prompted a furious Costa to fire off a letter to the city, defense attorney Hubert Santos argued.

Santos on cross examination read key parts of Costa’s letter to Patel and highlighted the paragraphs in which Costa threatened a lawsuit against the city, claiming the city had defaulted on its contractual obligations.

Patel, who in Janauary 2006  agreed that Costa should be terminated from the job because of primarily severe delays, said his decision changed after that meeting with  Perez and Crocini.

Patel had been working in the  public works department since 1978.  He was one of four who testified about the Park Street development project that was incurring additional costs because of delays and inflation, among other things.

The other prosecution witnesses were McGrane and two employees for city consulting firm Urban Engineers, Najib Habesch and John Bertoli — both of whom worked for the city of Hartford under the weak mayor form of government. The defense noted for the record the conflict of interest and said Costa objected when  the city hired  Urban Engineers. 

Urban Engineer consultant Bertoli said several of Costa’s claims were approved, but  many were denied because Costa’s claims were not submitted in the proper format, or were groundless.

In 2006, Patel said the mayor told him it was time for Patel to resign because he wanted to bring on new leadership. Santos, however, pointed out to Patel that he told the grand jury in 2008  that he retired. Santos also said that Patel failed to mention to the grand jury that Perez barked: “What the F*@! was going on here.”

 Prosecutor Michael Gailor on redirect with Patel showed him two letters: 1) the letter from Carlos Costa threatening to sue and 2) the May 8, 2006 letter  to the bond company alerting them of “unsatisfatory work” from Costa. Grailor then  asked which one Patel  saw in his meeting with Perez and Crocini.

Patel pointed to Costa’s letter, not the May 8 letter.

The letters are crucial  because the state contends  that Perez’s intervention constituted a bribe because he opted  to keep Costa on the job in return for $40,000 worth or renovation on Perez’s  house. The prosecutor claims that Perez paid only $20,000 for the job and only after he was being investigated.

But Patel later acknowledged  that it would have cost the city “a fortune” to release Costa from his contract. So it “was a business decision” to keep him. Consequently,  Costa stayed on the project and the workmanship improved afterward, Patel said.

Costa is expected to take the stand on Friday.

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Day 1: Mayor Eddie Perez On Trial

HARTFORD — On Wednesday, the state’s case against Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez began with its first witness, the city’s assistant director of public works.

John McGrane took the stand shortly before noon and testified that he sent a May 8, 2006 letter to Carlos Costa’s insurance bond company to alert them that the project was exceedingly behind schedule and was incurring “voluminous” claims for other expenses totaling about $1.3 million. Costa, a principal at USA Construction, had garnered the contract for Park Street restoration project because his bid was about $1.5 million less than the two other bids.

Under questioning from state prosecutor Michael Gailor,  McGrane also testified that there was a consensus to remove Costa from the job, and that’s why he sent the letter. But he was surprised to learn Charles Crocini, a lawyer and an engineer who was one of Mayor Eddie Perez’s aides, sent another letter eight days later to neutralize McGrane’s letter.

But Perez’s attorney Hubert Santos fired back and said McGrane reported to his boss, Bhupen Patel. Patel was the director of public works and he made the final decisions on all city projects, not McGrane. Santos also intimated that Patel had no problem with a second letter sent by Crocini because it was less costly to keep Costa on the Park Street job rather than fire him, only to then incur a lawsuit for “millions of dollars.”

Santos also punched a hole in McGrane’s testimony, adding that McGrane himself had outlined three recommendations on how best to address the “increasing embarrassment” to the city and Crocini used his suggestions in his letter to the bond company.  At another attempt to injure the credibility of the state’s first witness’s, the defense claimed that McGrane had a “contentious relationship” with Costa and “call the bond” to jeopardize Costa’s reputation as a contractor. Defense also claimed that delays were caused by the city itself.

Testimony from McGrane also revealed that his office delayed Costa’s payment for about two months, which among other complaints, prompted Costas’ onslaught of letters to the department, including a letter of intent to sue.

Santos  claimed that’s it was at that  crucial moment the mayor’s aide stepped in to “mediate” the caustic relationship that had developed with Costa and McGrane, who at some point was acting director before a new director was hired. Santos argued that Crocini’s role was to prevent the city from incurring “millions” of dollars in a lawsuit.

At issue on day one was whether Perez’s relationship with Costa resulted in a contract for the Park Street job and whether the mayor stepped in to keep Costa as the contractor, which led to work done in on Perez’s house in 2005. State prosecutors alleged that Costa did a $40,000 home improvement work on the house to remain on the Park Street job.  

Perez is on trial for corruption that also includes allegedly coercing and bribing Abe Giles, a political boss in the North End.

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