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As Lights Go Out at UN, Electricians Linked to Crime Are Paid $3.4 M a Year to 2010

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, April 14 -- The lights went out Tuesday in the top floors of the UN. Staff members were told they could leave. No explanation was given on Tuesday, nor regarding another power outage, on lower floors, Saturday during an emergency Security Council meeting about the North Korea launch. The UN's electrical contractor, Petrocelli, has this month seen its founder Santo Petrocelli indicted for bribery, described by law enforcement as associating since 1988 with members of the Genovese crime family.

   Tuesday's incident, an involved UN worker told Inner City Press, was caused by "someone kicking" off a transformer on the UN's 28th floor. Another added that this happened before, that the UN's electrical contractor had failed in its maintenance and then charged overtime to fix what it had not maintained.

   On April 13, Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: last week I’d asked about this contract with Petrocelli Electric that the UN has, in light of the indictment of the founder of the company.  Over the weekend The New York Times reported that the FBI says that the founder is connected or has associations with the Genovese crime family.  So what I’m wondering is now given... if you accept that report is true in The New York Times, what is the UN going to do about these contracts?

Associate Spokesperson Haq:  Well, Michèle told you what we’re doing in terms of that, and what she said last week hasn’t changed.

Inner City Press:  So the current contract is going to continue?  How long does the current contract run?

Associate Spokesperson:  Right now, they’re suspended from the list of vendors, but we do have, of course, our current facility needs.  So we have an existing contract.  But I believe she mentioned to you the suspension last week and...

Inner City Press: For future business.  I just want to know how much the current business is and whether this new report makes any changes.

Inner City Press:  I think she mentioned to you what the details of that contract were.  But I can just re-submit that over to you if you don’t have those details.

Inner City Press:  I don’t think she said either length or dollar value or any of the details.

Associate Spokesperson:  No, I think she mentioned what the services are.  So, I’ll get that over to you.

Working on wires at UN, blackouts and organized crime not shown

 Following the exchange above, the Associate Spokesman sent over the same non-quantitative presentation supplied the previous week. After the request was reiterated, the following morning this came in:

Subj: Your question on Petrocelli
From: unspokesperson-donotreply [at]
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 4/14/2009 8:57:49 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time

In response to your question about the duration and cost of the contract with the Petrocelli Electric Company, we can inform you that the contract has a duration of five years, from 1 July 2005 until 30 June 2010. Annual charges are approximately $3.4 million. The contractor provides a total of 21 persons.

   From this it is not clear how the $3.4 million a year is calculated, nor if the contractor ever provides refunds for work badly done, or UN labor hours lost. We will continue to follow this story -- even in the dark.

Footnote: In fairness, during the the first of these two blackouts, on Saturday April 11, at least one television broadcasters remarked to Inner City Press that "even if they are Mafia connected," the individual Petrocelli electricians who ran emergeny cables were pleasant and seemed confident. And so we report that.

  Click here for a new YouTube video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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