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Carlos Costa Denied AR

By Jenna Carlesso

February 24, 2011

During former Mayor Eddie Perez's four-week trial in May, city Contractor Carlos Costa essentially admitted his guilt on corruption charges that included two counts of bribery.

Through testimony, he conceded that he performed remodeling work on 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.

On Thursday, he again admitted responsibility.

"It appeared to me to be the natural thing to do," he told Judge Julia Dewey in Superior Court in Hartford. "I would like to express my sincere remorse."

But Costa's apology wasn't enough. Dewey denied his bid for accelerated rehabilitation, a form of probation that would have allowed his record to be expunged if successfully completed.

The judge acknowledged his cooperation throughout the city hall corruption investigation.

"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, referring to Perez's trial.

But, she added of his conduct: "You knew it was wrong. ... Because of the nature of the allegations, I cannot grant accelerated rehabilitation."

Costa, of USA contractors, is charged with two counts of bribery, tampering with physical evidence and conspiracy to commit tampering with physical evidence.

His attorney, William Gerace, said Costa was "disappointed" with Thursday's court ruling, and that he would likely try to reach a 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."

Prosecutors charged that Perez accepted deeply discounted home improvement work from Costa in exchange for Perez's help in holding on to a contract to renovate Park Street, a project plagued with troubles.

Costa and other witnesses testified during Perez's trial that the former mayor 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 -- former city Councilwoman Veronica Airey-Wilson and former city employee Edward Lazu. Airey-Wilson was charged with evidence tampering, while 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 was given a six-month suspended prison sentence and a one-year conditional discharge, meaning he avoided serving time in prison.

Reprinted with permission of the CityLine blog of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the CityLine at http://blogs.courant.com/cityline/ and the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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