Costa Charged With Bribery, Evidence-Tampering In Corruption Case Involving Perez
February 25, 2011
City contractor Carlos Costa, who is facing bribery and other charges in connection with former Mayor Eddie Perez's corruption scandal, apologized to a Superior Court judge Thursday in a bid for a special form of probation.
But Judge Julia Dewey, while acknowledging his cooperation in the investigation, said it wasn't enough.
"You knew it was wrong," she said. "Because of the nature of the allegations, I cannot grant accelerated rehabilitation."
During Perez's four-week trial in May, Costa testified that he remodeled Perez's home with no expectation of being paid, and with the intent of getting the mayor's help to remain on a $5.3 million project to reconstruct Park Street — a job mired in problems.
"It appeared to me to be the natural thing to do," he told Dewey in Superior Court in Hartford. "I would like to express my sincere remorse."
The judge acknowledged his cooperation throughout the city hall corruption investigation, including his testimony during Perez's trial.
"There is no doubt what you've done for your community, and you did a great service to the state with your testimony," Dewey said.
Costa, of USA contractors, is charged with two counts of bribery, tampering with physical evidence and conspiracy to tamper with physical evidence.
His attorney, William Gerace, said Costa was "disappointed" with Thursday's court ruling, and would probably try to plea bargain with prosecutors.
"I certainly don't want a felony. He doesn't deserve a felony," Gerace said of a potential plea deal. "Hopefully he'll get less than that."
Costa is scheduled to return to court on March 10.
Prosecutors charged that Perez accepted deeply discounted home improvement work from Costa in exchange for Perez's help in holding on to the contract to renovate Park Street.
Costa and other witnesses testified during Perez's trial that Perez assigned Charles Crocini, director of capital projects in the mayor's office, to run interference for Costa and try to settle $1.7 million in claims from Costa for extra payments beyond the contract price, even though public works officials and an expert consultant said that most of the claims lacked merit.
The prosecution also asserted that Perez wanted North End politician Abraham Giles to be paid to vacate a parking lot on a sliver of land crucial to a developer's plans for a condominium and shopping center.
Perez was convicted of five felony corruption charges in June, and later sentenced to three years in prison. He resigned from his post a week after the conviction.
Two others charged in the corruption investigation were granted accelerated rehabilitation —city Councilwoman Veronica Airey-Wilson and city employee Edward Lazu. Airey-Wilson was charged with evidence tampering; Lazu was accused of trading favorable treatment toward Costa for a new driveway at his home.
Giles pleaded guilty to attempted fourth-degree larceny by extortion and conspiracy to commit fourth-degree larceny by extortion in December. He received a six-month suspended prison sentence and one year conditional discharge, meaning he avoided serving time in prison.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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