JANUARY 27, 2009
The mayor of Connecticut’s capital city has been charged with accepting a costly home renovation as a bribe from a city contractor who claims he would have been “black balled” from future public projects if he failed to perform the work.
Hartford Democrat Mayor Eddie Perez surrendered to state police today after getting slapped with three felonies; bribery, fabricating evidence and conspiracy to fabricate evidence. In a statement published by the local newspaper, the mayor denies criminal wrongdoing but admits a “lapse in judgment” for using a city contractor to perform work on his house because it created the appearance of impropriety.
The charges arose from a lengthy state grand jury probe into city government corruption. Investigators looked into a $1 billion school construction project, questionable contracts for various parking lots and a variety of other city deals. A $40,000 kitchen and bathroom renovation at the mayor’s home stuck out because it was done by a contractor (Carlos Costa) who had received millions of dollars from the city for a troubled and long-overdue streetscape project.
The contractor, who told prosecutors that he considered the mayor’s renovation
“the cost of doing business" in Hartford, was also arrested and charged with two counts of bribery and one count each of fabricating evidence and conspiracy to fabricate evidence. A separate city employee was also charged in the scheme, with receiving a bribe, three counts of forgery and fabricating evidence.
Authorities say that their investigation also found “numerous instances” where Mayor Perez, in his official capacity, intervened in matters to benefit the contractor. The mayor approached the contractor about the home renovation and the contractor did not expect to be paid, investigators say, because he believed he would have been “black balled” from the city if he refused to do the work for free.
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