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Former Puerto Rico House speaker facing criminal charges

By on June 22, 2017

Former House Speaker Jaime Perelló (File photo)

SAN JUAN – Former Puerto Rico House Speaker Jaime Perelló will be accused Wednesday by the Special Independent Prosecutor (FEI by its Spanish acronym) of several criminal charges related to a contract for a switchboard in the lower chamber given to the former Popular Democratic Party (PDP) fundraiser Anaudi Hernández, who has since been convicted.

Nydia Cotto Vives, president of the Office of the Special Independent Prosecutor’s Panel (OPFEI by its Spanish initials), confirmed to Caribbean Business that criminal charges against Perelló and others will be filed Wednesday, June 28, at 2 p.m. in the Court of First Instance in San Juan.

“There will be charges against the former president of the House of Representatives and another six or seven co-defendants,” Cotto Vives said.

CB asked the OPFEI president to elaborate on the charges against Perelló and the other co-defendants, but Cotto explained that she is not allowed to provide details until the charges are filed.

In January, when the OPFEI assigned prosecutors to investigate Perelló’s case, the office said in a press release that some criminal offenses the former House speaker could have been committed are: illicit enrichment, unlawful use of worn or public services, interference in government operations, misuse of public funds, and violation of Act 7 for Political Campaign Financing.

In January, when the OPFEI assigned prosecutors to investigate Perelló’s case, the office itself stated in a press release that some crimes that may have been committed by the former speaker were illicit enrichment, benefitting illicitly from position, improper interference in government operations, embezzlement and violation of the political campaign financing law, Act 7.

“The Panel’s Resolution states that there is sufficient cause to believe that Mr. Anaudi Hernández, Héctor Vargas Soto, Victor Burgos Cotto, Xavier E. González Calderón and Glenn O. Rivera Pizarro may have committed–in concert and joint agreement with Mr. Perelló Borrás–several of the aforementioned crimes,” FEI’s  press release read, adding that all of the above would be investigated.

The investigation is related to the contract that Hernández and his business partner, Vargas Soto, obtained in the House to replace the switchboard mentioned during the federal trial against several of the co-defendants with the former PDP fundraiser.

Investigation against Castro in final phase 

When asked by CB about her office’s investigation of the former head of the local General Services Administration (GSA), Luis Castro, Cotto replied it is already in the final phase.

“It is possible that by the end of this month we will have the prosecutors’ report ready,” she said.

In December, the local Justice Department recommended a special independent prosecutor be appointed to investigate alleged Government Ethics Act violations by the former GSA administrator.

Specifically, then-Justice Secretary César Miranda said that Article 4.3(b) of the Government Ethics Act establishes that a public official can’t obtain an unfair advantage from a private person or company that has contracts with the agency.

During the federal trial against the co-defendant with fundraiser Hernández, Vargas declared that he lent $5,000 in cash to Castro and that the money allegedly wasn’t returned to him by the former GSA director.

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