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Hartford mayor's home searched

HARTFORD -- State law enforcement officers searched the home of Mayor Eddie Perez this week in connection with renovations that were done by a friend who is also a city contractor, Perez acknowledged yesterday.

Perez, facing the city's Democratic primary in less than four weeks, said he made a mistake in hiring Carlos Costa, a longtime friend, to work on his bathroom and kitchen.

The mayor said he and his wife, Maria, obtained financing from a credit union and paid Costa's company, USA Contractors Inc., more than $20,000 last month for the improvements, an amount he said was fair market value. Costa began the work in 2005, finished most of it last year, and billed Perez earlier this year, the mayor said.

Perez also said he took responsibility for Costa's failure to get the required permits for the job.

It was not immediately clear what prompted the investigation by the chief state's attorney's office. .

"Though I share the concern of many when allegations such as these arise close to an election," Perez said in a news conference at City Hall, "I understand the obligation of the chief state's attorney to fully investigate these issues, and I continue to cooperate with their investigation."

"I want the facts to be out there for the voters," he said. "It's important for me that they know that the work that was done at my house was fully paid for and that my wife and I look forward to continuing to work on the election."

Perez, who was elected in 2001 as the city's first Hispanic mayor, said he announced the search of his home and released documents related to the work yesterday to "reassure the people of Hartford that my administration is transparent and committed to the highest standards of ethical conduct."