Perez Trial Begins; Contractor's Work Under Microscope

Prosecutor contends Mayor's office stepped in to help Costa

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Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez in the courtroom
Photo:Stephen Dunn, Hartford Courant
Perez Trial Begins; Contractor's Work Under Microscope
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Perez Trial Begins; Contractor's Work Under Microscope

 

The first day of Mayor Eddie Perez's corruption trial centered on one witness who testified about the work of a city contractor - the same contractor prosecutors say bribed the Mayor with home renovations and in return, received special treatment. WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil has more.
 
John McGrane, an Assistant Director and city engineer for Hartford's Public Works Department, testified at length about the problems the city had with work done by Carlos Costa's contracting company.
 
The city's contract with Costa stipulated the $5.3 million street-scape project on Park Street be done in less than a year, but McGrane says the project wasn't meeting deadlines, was shoddy in places, and Costa kept submitting claims to the city for payment above the original contract. 
 
McGrane says the city had a meeting about what to do...included in the meeting was Charles Crocini-who worked in the Mayor's office and who McGrane says was called in to make sure they were treating Costa fairly. A decision was made that the city should notify the company who gave Costa a bond for the project that the contract was in default. But that's when things got odd, according to McGrane.  

"The decision to notify the bonding company was a serious action that we took a great deal of time contemplating, and I was very surprised to see a letter come out signed by Charles Crocini within a week or so after mine was sent, basically saying to disregard the letter that I had sent to them."
 
However, Mayor Perez's attorney, Hubert Santos's questioning tried to show that the Mayor's office wasn't giving Costa special treatment. Instead, Santos claimed they were making sure the city wouldn't be tied up in expensive litigation and project delays if they fired Costa.
 
Costa is expected to testify later this week.

For WNPR, I'm Lucy Nalpathanchil.