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Glenn Rivera’s defense tries distancing client from House fraud scheme

By on September 15, 2016

SAN JUAN – Former House of Representatives technology Director Víctor Burgos Cotto reiterated Thursday that defendant Glenn Rivera Pizarro lacked authority to fire him, and he was removed from his post by then-House Administrator Xavier González Calderón.

The defense of Rivera Pizarro, former assistant of González Calderón, questioned Burgos Cotto a second consecutive day and led the witness to recognize that Rivera Pizarro did not appear in several emails that discussed the proposals to award the House’s switchboard contract to 3Comm Global, owned by convicted businessman and former Popular Democratic Party (PDP) fundraiser Anaudi Hernández Pérez.

The five emails, with different dates, presented in the courtroom contained discussions between Ramses Maldonado, who was Hernández Pérez’s business partner, and Burgos Cotto himself as the sole House employee who appeared.

“[Rivera Pizarro] is not copied in any of the [emails] we have seen,” affirmed Burgos Cotto.

Upon questioning by Juan Masini Soler, Rivera Pizarro’s lawyer, the former IT director and 28th witness in the government corruption trial admitted that his talks with Hernández Pérez’s business partners were cordial, friendly and familial, “as with any type of negotiation.”

Burgos Cotto informed that he met with Hernández Pérez and his business partners on several occasions to discuss the proposal, “but not every time they requested it.”

When questioned, the witness acknowledged that there wasn’t an existing document about the alleged threat that Rivera Pizarro made to him to sign the 3Comm Global contract, and he acknowledged that he never presented a formal complaint in the House about the supposedly improper pressures he received from his superiors to favor Hernández Pérez.

Psychological Pressure

Federal prosecutor Timothy Henwood asked Burgos Cotto to explain why he felt threatened by Rivera Pizarro and González Calderón, and the witness said that the pressure received from his superiors was psychological.

On right, Glenn Rivera Pizarro, former assistant to Xavier González, former House administrator, with his lawyer, Juan Soler Masini. (CB photo/Limarys Suárez Torres)

On right, Glenn Rivera Pizarro, former assistant to Xavier González, former House administrator, with his lawyer, Juan Soler Masini. (CB photo/Limarys Suárez Torres)

“When you are in the meetings, specifically in meetings with Glenn and Xavier, they tell me: ‘You have to do as we say because nowadays it is very difficult to find a job. You need to help friends.’ In another meeting attended by the proposal-analysis committee they tell you: ‘you have to help friends, be part of the system.’ Glenn himself told me: ‘Víctor, I am not here to help you and if you don’t do as you are told, they will fire you.’ All that pressure takes a toll on one’s mind, and I obviously need the job. It is a psychological pressure that’s worse than physical [pressure],” Burgos Cotto explained.

Henwood inquired whether Rivera Pizarro’s defense asked why he didn’t present a complaint against the people who pressured him, to which he replied that he abstained from doing so because the people who made the decisions were the same who pressured him.

“What was Glenn?” asked the federal attorney regarding Rivera Pizarro’s role in the House.

“He was the executive assistant of Administrator Xavier González, and in my case [as IT director], Glenn supervised me,” the witness answered.

Subsequently, Henwood showed the jury a projection of Rivera Pizarro’s résumé, establishing that the accused was in charge of operations and administrative labors in the House of Representatives, and he supervised technology offices, which Burgos Cotto directed.

The résumé also shows that Rivera Pizarro was in charge of supervising the offices for purchases and services, human resources, printing, mail, transportation, property, citizen aid, finance, and management.

Henwood asked if Rivera Pizarro’s résumé says he supervised Burgos Cotto’s office. “Correct,” affirmed the witness.

The federal attorney presented another document, dated May 9, 2013–a letter from Rivera Pizarro saying that the last day to present proposals to replace the House’s switchboard was May 16, 2013. Burgos Cotto emphasized that “such a technical” proposal couldn’t be elaborated in a week.

Henwood presented an email dated May 17, 2013, one day after the House’s pre-established deadline to present the proposals, which shows Ramses Maldonado sent Rivera Pizarro the revised proposal for 3Comm Global.

“[Maldonado] sent it to Glenn Rivera to his House of Representatives email, his work email,” said Burgos Cotto after reading the electronic exchange and affirming it was dated the day after the expired period for bidders to present their proposals.

That same day, Maldonado sent another email to Rivera Pizarro to his personal, Yahoo, Account to discuss the 3Comm proposition.

Henwood presented the jury an email from Rivera Pizarro to Hernández Pérez on Oct. 23, 2013, in which he sent his résumé so the fundraiser would find a job for him outside the House. That request was sent 14 days after the House signed the contract with 3Comm Global for the switchboard replacement, on Oct. 9, 2013.

Rivera Pizarro faces two criminal charges, in this case, conspiracy to commit electronic fraud and misuse of public funds.

The trial in Room 3, presided by Judge Pedro A. Delgado, is against Sally López, former director of the Workforce Development Agency; Ivonne Falcón, former vice president of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (Prasa), and her sister Marielis Falcón; and Glenn Rivera Pizarro, former assistant of Xavier González, former House administrator.

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