Privately Joe Tiago, fired last week by Mayor Joe Ganim, is telling friends he’s a scapegoat in this ScrapGate thing. Cash for scrap metal may be the least of his worries as federal investigators dig deeper into his relationship with a local contractor who’s received tons of city work. It’s a company that has a reputation for solid work.
Former City Councilman Bob Halstead, an urban planner, notes in the OIB comments section “The Vaz Brothers are an asset to BPT. Central HS alums. Loyal to their native city. They’ve invested a lot and do a great job on the properties they purchase including the former Dangerous Curves in Black Rock. They really stabilized the 100 Block on William St. They do quality work, Perfect gentlemen. Model citizens. Nice guys!”
Tiago has hired John Gulash, a preeminent criminal defense attorney, as subpoenas mount. If you’re in trouble, hire Gulash.
Love her or loathe her, school board member Maria Pereira marinates in the transactional relationships of the politically connected. On February 6, she wrote this about Tiago, former deputy director of Public Works–hired under the Bill Finch administration and promoted by Public Facilities Director John Ricci–and his business dealings with local contractor VAZ.
I had time to do a deep dive on the sale of the Crescent Ave. property Tiago sold to a Vaz brother.
Tiago actually sold three adjacent lots to a Vaz brother in 2014.
640 Crescent Ave was assessed at $270,000 in the 2010 reevaluation. After the 2015 reevaluation it was only assessed at $153,170.
The next lot was on 1581 Crescent Ave. and was assessed at $142,546 in 2010. After the 2015 reevaluation it was assessed at only $115,330.
The last lot was 69 Crescent Avenue. It was assessed at $54,600 in 2014. After the 2015 reevaluation it was assessed at $46,800.
So all three properties were assessed at a combined value of $410,352. Its total market value would have been $586,217 when it was sold to a Vaz brother in 2014, yet he paid $845,000 for all three lots. That is still well over $250,000 more than the full value of the three lots combined.
After the 2015 reevaluation all three properties are now only valued at $450,428. The Vaz brother lost $136,000 in property value only one year after he purchased all three lots.
Any way you analyze this it just doesn’t make sense. Was the extra $250,000 part of a quid pro quo? Is it a bribe built into what is supposed to be a legitimate transaction on the surface?
I have no idea, however it looks bad in my opinion.
Federal investigators also think it smells and they’re looking into it.
From CT Post reporter Brian Lockhart:
Federal authorities have subpoenaed the city for three years worth of records on scrap metal sales and dealings with local contractors–VAZ Quality Works, Seaview Equipment Sales & Rental, and G. Pic and Sons Construction.
Several sources said the subpoenas, part of an ongoing FBI criminal probe, were issued Thursday and Friday, and multiple departments scrambled to respond to the wide-ranging demand for bids, contracts, payment receipts, emails, text messages, voicemails and more.
… Seaview Equipment is located at 640 Crescent Ave. State and city records show that a limited liability corporation owned by Luis Vaz and Jose Vaz, Yellow Mill Pond, purchased that land and two neighboring parcels–600 Crescent and 1581 Seaview Avenue–from Tiago’s Citywide Properties LLC in August, 2014.
Luis and Jose Vaz paid Tiago $845,000. The properties in 2014 were appraised at $304,577 for 640 Crescent Ave., $203,637 for 1581 Seaview Ave. and $78,000 for 600 Crescent Ave.
That transaction took place about four months after Tiago, himself a contractor as well as a restaurateur, was hired by then-Mayor Bill Finch as a politically appointed, $91,304-a-year project manager in Public Facilities overseeing road construction.
Full story here.