City Will Pay Costa, At Center Of Perez Case, $485,000
By JENNA CARLESSO
September 28, 2010
HARTFORD — — The city will pay contractor Carlos Costa $485,000 to settle a lawsuit he filed seeking money owed to him for work on a stalled Park Street reconstruction project.
Costa, the man at the center of the bribery case against former Mayor Eddie A. Perez, sued the city for $2.2 million last year, citing breach of contract, unpaid change orders and unpaid work on what began as a $5.3 million job to reconstruct Park Street.
Costa, of USA Contractors, is accused of trading discounted home repairs for Perez's help in holding onto the Park Street contract, a job mired in problems.
The city council voted to approve the settlement Monday. As part of the agreement, Costa will not bid on any contracts from the city, board of education or parking authority until July 2, 2012.
Councilman Kenneth Kennedy said Tuesday that taking the case to trial could have cost the city as much or more than the settlement.
"We have been told that preparing for trial would cost close to half a million dollars," he said. "The cost would be high because of the number and type of experts we would have needed to testify. We made a decision from a financial standpoint."
Mayor Pedro Segarra said now that the lawsuit is resolved, the city can move ahead with repairs on Park Street.
"We need to start addressing issues like potholes and lampposts, just general defects. The lawsuit was an impediment to being able to accomplish that," Segarra said Tuesday. "This will free us up to do some fixing and patching up."
While the city will address some of the smaller problems, it doesn't have the money to do large-scale repairs at this point, he said.
As for Park Street merchants, Segarra said they're "fed up."
"I met with the merchants, and they seem to be in support of this being settled so they can move forward," he said.
Costa's attorney, Timothy Corey, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Costa was working on the Park Street project at the same time he was working on the kitchen and bathroom of Perez's Hartford home. Costa has said that he performed $40,000 worth of work on the mayor's home but never expected to get paid. Perez paid him roughly $20,000, but only after state investigators confronted him.
Costa has been charged with two counts of bribery, tampering with physical evidence and conspiracy to commit tampering with physical evidence. He has pleaded not guilty, and his case is pending in Superior Court in Hartford.
Perez was convicted of five felony corruption charges, including bribery and extortion, and sentenced to three years in prison.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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