By JEFFREY B. COHEN And MATTHEW KAUFFMAN, Courant Staff Writers
September 13, 2007
The person who a city contractor says did electrical work at the home of Mayor Eddie A. Perez is not a licensed electrician, state Department of Consumer Protection officials said Wednesday.
The worker - whom department officials would not name because an investigation is pending - was identified by city contractor Carlos Costa as the electrician in the $20,000 renovation Costa oversaw at the mayor's house.
Department officials began asking questions about the electrical work last week, after The Courant reported that bills released by the mayor to show that he paid for the renovation made no mention of electrical work. After Costa identified the electrician he said he hired, consumer protection officials determined that the worker was not licensed, said Richard E. Maloney, the department's director of trade practices.
Perez said through a spokesman Wednesday that Costa never told him who did the electrical work and that he had assumed Costa had hired only licensed workers.
Neither Costa nor his attorney responded to telephone messages Wednesday.
State law makes it illegal both to work as an electrician without a license and to employ an unlicensed electrician; current law calls for a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offense.
The remodeling job is also being looked at by state criminal investigators, who searched the mayor's home and Costa's office last month.
Maloney said the department - which is also investigating whether Costa performed home-improvement work without a valid registration - hoped to complete its inquiry in the next two weeks. One part of the investigation will be to verify whether the person Costa named actually did the electrical work, Maloney said.
"We need to know who did what, where, when and how," Maloney said. "We have reached out to Mr. Costa, and he is cooperating with the investigation."
A month ago, Perez acknowledged that Costa - a family friend whose construction company has received millions in city money - installed a new countertop in the mayor's kitchen and handled the renovation of a bathroom. The work at Perez's home on Bloomfield Avenue was done without permits or inspections. Perez had said it was a mistake to hire a city contractor to work on his home. He said he believed it was a concern for some voters in Tuesday's Democratic primary, which he won with 49 percent of the vote in a four-person race.
Costa began the renovation in early 2005. But it was not until February of this year that Costa sent the mayor a bill for $20,217. After taking out a home-equity loan in June, Perez wrote a check for the full amount.
Last month, Perez filed for building, electrical and plumbing permits. He has yet to request city inspections. Dinesh Patel, the city's director of licenses and inspections, said the inspections would not be affected by the fact that the electrician was unlicensed.
Meanwhile, more than two weeks after questions were first raised about the absence of an electrician's bill, it remains uncertain just how the work was paid for.
Last week, an aide said the mayor was under the "assumption" that he had paid for the electrical work and that the cost was included in a $2,900 charge for "lump sum labor" included in Costa's bill to the mayor.
"Mr. Costa has been contacted to verify that any electrical work was contained in the bill," mayoral aide Sarah Barr told the Courant a week ago.
Asked for an update Wednesday, Barr did not say whether Costa had answered the question. "Mr. Costa has been contacted," Barr wrote, "but as we previously told you, the Mayor believes all costs - including electrical - were in the bill."
The electrical permit estimated roughly $1,500 for materials and labor to "install new lighting, replace and install air vent, install power to tub and shower." That figure would have included about $220 worth of electrical supplies Costa bought at Home Depot.
If the electrical permit is accurate, the electrician's fee could have been as high as $1,300. If that money was part of the "lump sum labor" charge, that would mean Costa charged well under $2,000 for demolition and framing work, handling subcontractors and getting supplies, including making 24 separate trips to Home Depot from May 2005 to August 2005.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at