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Ex-Puerto Rico Police chief referred case involving ruling party’s former campaign manager

By on June 26, 2019

Elías Sánchez, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s representative to the Puerto Rico Financial Oversight & Management Board (CB file)

Questions why probe into police protection for gov’s former campaign manager, rep to fiscal board hasn’t ended

SAN JUAN — Former Puerto Rico Police Superintendent Michelle Hernández confirmed Monday evening that in November 2017, she referred an anonymous document that contained allegations about the former executive director of the New Progressive Party’s (NPP) 2016 gubernatorial campaign, Elías Sánchez, who allegedly had police escorts assigned to him even though he was not a public official.

In a TV interview with Univision’s “Jugando Pelota Dura” (“Playing Hard Ball”), a political analysis primetime show, Hernández said that, in late 2017, she received information with the allegation.

“It was very specific and I referred it to the Auxiliary Superintendency for Professional Responsibility [SARP by its Spanish acronym], which is an internal office in the Police that investigates [allegations against] police officers,” Hernández said. “The anonymous information was making reference to [allegations from] November and December 2016.”

Hernández said that when she read the document, she was surprised about the serious allegations being made and the amount of detail contained in the document that led her to think that “it came from someone inside the Police force that saw what was going on.”

She said the document was credible enough for her to refer it for investigation, adding that it was also sent to the Government Ethics Office.

Sánchez was also Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s representative to the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico and .

The former police chief said she doesn’t know why the police probe has taken so long, “because one of the orders and regulations that had already been approved at the federal Department of Justice level says that an investigation has to be completed in 90 days,” she said. “Three 30-day extensions can be requested if there is a compelling reason to request an extension.”

The document with the allegations was sent for investigation 18 months ago, and “if you look at it, the way it should be working is there is a justification to request an extension. So we are talking about 90 days, plus three 30-day extensions so that is a total of 180 days at the most,” she explained.

The Government Ethics Office and SARP reportedly continue to investigate the allegations. The FBI is thought to also be conducting an investigation into the matter.

Hernández said that when she sent the information to be investigated, it wasn’t made public.

“It’s part of the work that has to be carried out and that involves police, so it was sent to SARP and the Government Ethics Office.”

Individuals are not supposed to receive protection from police escorts as these are paid with public funds.

“It’s very difficult to justify granting a police escort to someone that is not a public figure,” Hernández said, adding that during her tenure, the majority of threats made to individuals “didn’t receive police escorts but preventive patrolling could be offered around the home the person threatened lives in.”

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