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Justice Dept. report: Puerto Rico power utility did not hide materials

By on January 31, 2018

SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez announced Wednesday that the agency’s Public Integrity & Comptroller’s Affairs Division issued a report related to the alleged concealment of materials in Warehouse 5 of the Electric Power Authority (Prepa), in which it was determined no crime was committed.

“The concluded investigation–which was somewhat delayed because the [U.S. Army] Corps of Engineers [USACE] requested to respond to a Department of Justice requirement in writing–reflected that the materials and existence of Warehouse 5 were not hidden or concealed by Prepa and that in any event, there was no commission of any crime. That being the situation, the Justice Department closes its investigation and notified its results to the Hon. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares, governor of Puerto Rico,” Vázquez said in a statement.

Prepa’s Palo Seco power complex between the municipalities of Cataño and Toa Baja. (Felipe Torres/CB)

She explained that the investigation, led by Mónica Rodríguez of the Public Integrity & Comptroller’s Affairs Division, came about in light of a referral by Rosselló on Jan. 11, concerning materials that remained in Palo Seco’s Warehouse 5.

USACE alleged the materials were hidden and could have been used to restore the island’s power grid after Hurricane Maria. The agency requested it be determined, if in the custody, storage and administration of said materials, administrative norms were violated or crimes against the public interest were committed.

The investigation revealed that the materials contained in Palo Seco’s Warehouse 5 were in a separate inventory from the rest of the utility’s warehouses. It also found that USACE personnel were aware of its existence. The report states that “since at least October 2017, companies contracted by USACE have acquired materials from said warehouse.”

“We understand there are no elements that typify actions of a criminal nature. The evidence obtained does not establish that Prepa employees omitted or obstinately neglected to fulfill the obligations of their position or employment, and as a consequence of such neglect, loss of public funds or damage to public property has been caused,” the report reads.

Moreover, “it does not follow from the facts revealed that the materials in Warehouse 5 had been hidden or concealed by Prepa personnel, [nor] that their existence had been denied.”

Governor asks Justice to probe USACE claim of ‘missing’ Puerto Rico grid materials

 

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