Tuesday, September 17, 2019

INS Sources: Witnesses Will Point Directly at Perelló

By on August 14, 2016

SAN JUAN – Several witnesses could point directly at House Speaker Jaime Perelló Borras in having knowledge of corruption perpetrated at the legislative body by other “co-conspirators” along with federal convict Anaudi Hernández Pérez, various sources told Inter News Service (INS).

Testimony sitting in the federal district attorney’s office could include Hernández Pérez confronting Perelló about the delay in granting a contract to his company, 3Comm, and the speaker’s reply to calm him: “The contract will be yours.”

The House had initiated a request for proposals (RFP), which ended up being false, to change the lower chamber’s switchboard.

Similarly, authorities have evidence that Perelló received an envelope with $45,000 in cash by Lutgardo Acevedo after a boat ride with Hernández Pérez along the Boquerón coast a few months before the 2012 election, in the midst of his political campaign.

Inside an SUV with tinted windows, where all three sat, Perelló, who says he does not know how much money was inside the envelope, according to what INS was told, would have handed the package to Hernández Pérez, who was responsible for carrying out fundraising events for the campaign of the then-Popular Democratic Party minority representative.

“This is what I could get for the campaign,” he supposedly told Acevedo, who shortly thereafter was convicted federally of bribing a state judge.

House Speaker Jaime Perelló

House Speaker Jaime Perelló

Perelló would not have been able to provide documentation that the money was reported, and there is no record of fundraising activities in which Acevedo–a close friend of Hernández Pérez–participated. Yet, the money did not seem suspicious to Perelló, who did not ask about its origin.

Electoral law caps individual campaign donations at $2,500 annually.

The information has not yet been divulged in trial because almost everyone involved in the scheme involving the embezzlement of public funds devised by Hernández Pérez and “co-conspirators”–which includes government officials who have been accused and others that haven’t–have plead guilty, starting with Hernández Pérez, who has a plea agreement, and more recently the House’s administrator, Xavier González, who does not.

“Hectoín” Vargas, one of Hernández Pérez’s business associates, has also plead guilty to a charge.

The House’s IT director, Víctor Burgos, also plead guilty and has a preliminary agreement. Burgos said the the RFP was a corrupt process from the start, contrary to what Perelló has said under oath, that it was an “open and transparent” process in which the lowest bidder had to compete for the contract.

Hernández Pérez began quoting nearly $600,000 for the job, but after offering several quotes, ended up offering less than $150,000 because he heard from the House that he had to “lower the price, because it is still too high.” After signing the contract, he sought to amend it to increase invoicing.

The theory of federal prosecutors, which hasn’t been revealed to INS, is Perelló was aware of the process.

Burgos has already revealed that Perelló did ask for the contract to be signed with Hernández Pérez. Other witnesses, if the prosecution were to ask, could indicate that Perelló was well aware of the situation with the contracts, as he would repeatedly ask about them, including 3Comm’s.

Perelló has distanced himself publicly and privately from the process, alleging he had left the matter to his subordinates. The special assistant to the House administrator, Glenn Rivera Pizarro, was accused in the corruption scheme and will face trial along with three others this week.

Federal prosecutors have also gathered evidence by other means, including that Hernández Pérez sent Perelló’s wife résumés of people seeking government jobs.

The information given by sources to INS indicate that Perelló, who the feds have repeated is not currently under investigation but have warned that what he says can be used against him, could be tried before the elections in a second round of accusations. And although not under investigation, questions to witnesses in the federal grand jury look to specifically clarify his participation.

Hernández Pérez has also been accused for alleged schemes at other agencies (Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority, and Labor Development Administration). He also devised a scheme at the Education Department and another project to get money from the Puerto Rico  Treasury Department by replacing the picture frames of the official photos of the governor throughout the government.

Perelló concedes he became friends with Hernández Pérez due to his collaboration in the Treasury Committee. INS learned that, according to Perelló himself, after the 2012 elections that friendship grew.

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