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Former Puerto Rico House speaker faces corruption charges

By on June 28, 2017

Former Puerto Rico House Speaker Jaime Perelló. (Juan J. Rodríguez/CB)

SAN JUAN – After two years of speculation and public statements related to the preferential treatment given at the Puerto Rico House of Representatives to former Anaudi Hernández, a Popular Democratic Party (PDP) fundraiser and now federal convict, on Wednesday the lower chamber’s former speaker, Jaime Perelló, will face justice for alleged public corruption.

Perelló was summoned to appear at 2 p.m. at the Investigation Hall in San Juan’s Court of First Instance, where criminal charges will be filed by independent special prosecutors Ramón Mendoza and Leticia Pabón for illicit enrichment, illicit exploitation of work or public services, undue interference in government operations, embezzlement of public funds and violating the political campaign financing law.

In total there are 22 criminal charges, which also include perjury and extortion, against Perelló and four other people.

The case against the former speaker is related to the contract that Hernández and his associate Héctor Vargas obtained in the House to replace a switchboard and brought to light during a federal trial against several of the co-defendants along with Hernández, who is now convicted.

Also related to the financing of his political campaign for which will face charges José Carrión, who was a member of its finance committee.

In January, the Special Independent Prosecutor Panel issued a resolution stating that there was sufficient cause to believe that Hernández; Vargas; former House IT Director Víctor Burgos; now convicted former House Administrator Xavier E. González; and former special House assistant Glenn O. Rivera could have committed—in concert and joint agreement with the speaker at the time—several of the abovementioned crimes.

Those charged with a crime Wednesday are Perelló; Ivelisse T. Reyes, who was Perelló’s campaign treasurer; attorney Ángel Muñoz; Carrión; González and Rivera.

Reyes will be charged for allegedly infringing Article 14.005 of the campaign finance law. The article is related to the filing of false reports on donations received in the political campaign.

When arrived in court, Prosecutor Mendoza said Hernández, Burgos and Vargas are several of their witnesses. All three have immunity.

In April 2016, after Hernández pleaded guilty, then-Speaker Perelló assured the media he was not the object of any investigation and that he had collaborated in multiple instances with the authorities.

“What I can say is that throughout this process I have been collaborating. There is even information they [the prosecutors] have that I have provided in the process, so that will continue its course. But something that has been more than clear, time and again, is that I am not the object of any investigation by the authorities,” Perelló said.

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