FBI Bridgeport investigation: 5 things to know
It’s an election year in Bridgeport and the FBI is in the city.
The specifics of the probe are not yet known — the FBI is famously silent on details during an investigation — but enough bits and pieces have become public to begin putting a picture together.
Here are five things you need to know about the FBI investigation in Bridgeport.
1. It started with an anonymous letter
Police and city officials began investigating allegations that employees of the Public Facilities Department were misappropriating cash from the sale of scrap metal after an anonymous letter was sent to the city council.
Public Facilities Director John Ricci told Hearst Connecticut Media that the department does have an off-the-books, petty cash fund of proceeds from the sale of any scrap metal left over from city construction projects or municipal clean-ups.
Federal agents have at least twice visited the downtown government center and, specifically, the Public Facilities, Finance and Law departments.
2. Some employees have already been fired
Joe Tiago, the city’s deputy public facilities director was fired and has hired a prominent local criminal defense attorney.
That lawyer confirmed that he is representing Tiago in connection with the federal investigation, which is focused on the illicit sale of scrap metal, missing money from those transactions, and municipal contracting.
Jose DeMoura, who managed recycling, has also been fired by the city.
3. Tiago may have used vacant lots as business addresses
Tiago for years listed 1581 Seaview Ave. in Bridgeport as the physical and mailing address for two companies: Tiago Construction and Citywide Properties, state business filings show.
That address is, and has been for a long time, an empty, vacant lot and was sold in 2014 to Luis and Jose Vaz.
When contacted by reporters, the address of Citywide Properties was changed to 65 Herkimer St. in Bridgeport, a multifamily home owned by Tiago.
4. Vaz-owned companies have been issued subpoenas
Federal authorities have subpoenaed the city for three years worth of records on scrap metal sales and dealings with several local contractors — VAZ Quality Works, Seaview Equipment Sales & Rental, and G. Pic and Sons Construction.
Over the last four years, G. Pic & Sons Construction was awarded more than $9.1 million worth of city work — VAZ Quality Works received over $4.3 million in contracts, and Seaview Equipment got about $89,400.
Those contracts were allegedly awarded outside of any bidding process.
According to Luis Vaz’s online Linkedin profile, he co-founded VAZ Quality Works in 2001 and Seaview Equipment in July, 2015. Seaview Equipment is located at 640 Crescent Ave.
5. There is a federal grand jury probing Bridgeport
A subpoena issued to the city by federal authorities shows a grand jury in New Haven is actively probing possible municipal corruption.
The Feb. 4 subpoena obtained by Connecticut Hearst Media seeks city records from Jan. 1, 2015, to Nov. 8, 2018, which includes both the final year of former Mayor Bill Finch’s administration as well Mayor Joe Ganim’s tenure in office, which began December 2015.
The subpoena demanded all documents, emails, voice mails, receipts, invoices and other communications regarding scrap metal sales by the city, plus records regarding Vaz Quality Works and Seaview Equipment Sales.
Brian Lockhart and Bill Cummings contributed to this story.