Cause for arrest found against former Puerto Rico House speaker
SAN JUAN – Municipal Judge Edgardo Figueroa found cause for arrest Wednesday night against former Puerto Rico House Speaker Jaime Perelló for nine charges, among which are perjury and violating government ethics and campaign finance laws, and set a $500 bail for each charge, for which he was allowed to pay only 10 percent.
After a long hearing, in which Perelló’s lawyer, José Andreu Fuentes, argued that several allegations against his client were flawed, the municipal judge said set a preliminary hearing for Aug. 15.
“In the case of Jaime Perelló and Glenn Rivera Pizarro, I find cause in all charges against them,” Figueroa declared.
The municipal judge reserved ruling against codefendants José Carrión and attorney Ángel Muñoz Noya until their defense, led by Germán Riefkohl and Ricardo Prieto, respectively, presents their written statements to the court regarding a supposed lack of jurisdiction of the Office of the Special Independent Prosecutor’s Panel (OPFEI by its Spanish initials) against the accused, who are private citizens, not public figures.
Meanwhile, Figueroa did not find cause for arrest on all charges presented against Ivelisse Reyes, Perelló’s former campaign treasurer.
“I am not surprised [about the decision] because in this stage of the proceedings the court has to be very cautious and in its moment will know the truth. This process—thank God you saw how distorted it is—how the rules are being changed in this process simply because it is getting a lot of public coverage. Of the nine crimes against my client, four of them clearly do not apply because they are public servants of the executive branch and Mr. Jaime Perelló was in the legislative branch,” Andreu Fuentes said after cause for arrest was found.
The four charges Andreu Fuentes deemed inapplicable to his client are related to an alleged violation of the Government Ethics Act. He further denounced that Special Independent Prosecutors (FEI for its Spanish acronym) Ramón Mendoza and Leticia Pabón “didn’t read the [Government] Ethics Act before pressing charges.”
Andreu Fuentes added that Perelló is also exempt from the complaint against him for allegedly lying in his ethics report for allegedly failing to report that he received political donations.
“One cannot omit something that wasn’t requested. The only way you commit perjury is when you are asked for something and you don’t say it. Political donations are reported in the Office of the Electoral Comptroller and not in the financial report of the official who submits it to ethics. What [evidence] is there that Perello is from the executive branch? None. What [says] that Perelló had to report that political donation to his campaign in his ethics report? None,” the defense argued.
Prosecutor Pabón refuted Andreu García when pointing out that the Code of Ethics used to file the complaints also applies to the legislative branch.
Another argument presented by Perelló’s defense during the hearing, which went past 8 p.m., was the supposed lack of credibility of federal convict Anaudi Hernández and his former business partner, Héctor Vargas.
Andreu Fuentes said both of them testified extensively in federal court and “never” implied Perelló of any crime or of having knowledge that Hernández’s fundraising events were hosted in exchange for a contract with the House of Representatives to fix the legislative body’s switchboard.
“The defense has taken a completely wrong path. The court has found cause in all charges. He has cases that have no probation. Those are the ones that have to do with the Ethics Act. Anaudi’s statement is accompanied by a series of exhibits. We will continue to work hard and the people must be clear about the unwavering commitment to eradicate corruption,” Mendoza said when leaving the courtroom.
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