Land sale may be conflict of interest in Hartford - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Land sale may be conflict of interest in Hartford

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A few years ago, the city of Hartford sold some land for $1, only to watch the buyer turn around get $500,000 for it.

In October 2011, city officials sold 95 Park St. to Spanish American Merchant for $1, who then sold it to Hartford Hospital.

When it was all over, Hartford Hospital ended up with its new garage and SAMA used the money in the sale to make some much-needed improvements.

But its turns out a councilor Alexander Aponte, who voted for the deal, is actually a member of SAMA and his Facebook page shows him participating in their events.

As first reported in the local political blog We the People, the city's internal audit commission is now referring one city councilor's role to the ethics commission.

"The purpose of the sale was to provide SAMA with a long-term home in the neighborhood, provide the means to get the building repaired, and make room for Hartford Hospital's garage," a city spokesperson said in a statement.

The mayor's office said Mayor Pedro Segarra would not be commenting on audit commission referral.

As part of the deal, which councilors approved unanimously, SAMA needed to use some of the money on building improvements, which the nonprofit told Eyewitness News it did with an elevator and other work.

SAMA can't sell the building  for 15 years. Still, Hartford residents have questions.

"Sounds to me like an investigation should be held because maybe some shady business could have been going on," said Randal Mongillo of Hartford.

Some people even called it a "conflict of interest."

"It pretty much sounds like a conflict of interest," said Kory Drummond of Hartford.

Eyewitness News reached out to Aponte, but the station's calls were not immediately returned.

City's ethics commission is set to meet next on July 9 at 5 p.m. at city hall.

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