(Updated 7:35 p.m.)Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez’s supporters wore green ribbons on their lapels to show their support for the mayor Tuesday while his attorney, Hubert Santos, took aim at state prosecutors saying there was nothing in the arrest warrant affidavit that alleged a crime.
“Where is the crime Mr. Kane?” Santos said referring to the Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane. “Certainly not in these papers.”
Perez, who was charged with receiving a bribe, fabricating physical evidence, and conspiracy to fabricate physical evidence, turned himself into state police on Tuesday morning. At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Perez struck a conciliatory tone apologizing to his family and his supporters for hiring a city contractor to do work on his home.
“I never have traded my public office for private benefit,” Perez said. “I am deeply disturbed by the allegations contained in the warrant affidavit.”
In the arrest warrant Carlos Costa, the city contractor that performed the work on Perez’s Bloomfield Avenue home, said that when Perez and his wife walked into the showroom and picked out a granite countertop in 2005, “he did not expect to be paid for the work.” Costa described the situation as the “cost of me doing business with the City.”
Costa was asked what would happen if he had not done Perez’s work for free. Costa stated he believed he would have been “persona non grata” and felt he would be “blackballed” as a contractor.
Stan McCauley, who ran against Perez in 2007, said the press conference Tuesday was a well-crafted preemptive strike by Perez and his attorney to mitigate the damage against him.
“It’s a sad day for Hartford,” McCauley said. He said the case the state looks to be building against Perez is not so much about the mayor, but more about corruption in the city.
Perez and his wife waited almost two years before paying Costa for the kitchen and bathroom renovations, which the affidavit alleges were substantially completed in 2005. Santos said Tuesday that the delay in payment was due to Maria Perez’s health problems and mounting medical bills.
“Mayor Perez was focused on the health of his wife,” Santos said. “The mayor always intended to pay, in fact, he asked Mr. Costa’s three times for a bill.”
The affidavit states that after the first time Perez was interviewed by state investigators on June 27, 2007, he “stated he paid USA Contractors by check about a year and a half ago.” It was that same day a few hours after investigators left his office that Perez and his wife applied for a $25,000 home equity loan, during a scheduled lunch.
When the state investigator continued to call in an effort to get a copy of the canceled check Perez alluded to during their first conversation, Santos was the one who returned the calls.
The money was transferred to Perez’s Hartford Federal Credit Union account and on July 11, 2007, the official check was printed.
According to the affidavit, Perez had known since January 2007 that he was being investigated by the state.
Perez was released on a promise to appear in Hartford Superior Court on Feb. 3.