Tuesday, August 11, 2020

NPP Denounces Alleged Fraud Scheme in Toa Alta

By on October 30, 2016

Rep. Ángel ‘Gary’ Rodríguez Miranda and former Public Housing Administration administrator Miguel Hernández Vivoni denounced Sunday an alleged millionaire fraud scheme in the adjudication of a large construction project in Toa Alta.

Showing evidence of possible criminal acts on behalf of the municipality’s mayor, Clemente ‘Chito’ Agosto, the New Progressive Party (NPP) representative requested intervention from the Comptroller’s Office and federal Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro.

“We are here because, just days before the general elections, the mayor of Toa Alta has moved mountains to announce a millionaire contract for the construction and administration of a retirement home for the elderly to an foreign company without fulfilling all the parameters of the law on fast track. This, without saying anything about the millionaire gift he gave to the company that will invest in the business, since he granted around three blocks of land right in the middle of Toa Alta’s urban area for one dollar, a land the municipality acquired in 1997 for $1.2 million,” said Rodríguez Miranda during a press conference on NPP headquarters, in Hato Rey.

(Agustín Criollo/CB)

(Agustín Criollo/CB)

As explained by the also mayoral candidate of Toa Baja, the Municipal Ordinance No. 2 Series 2005-16 of July 2015 facilitated the land transfer, located on No. 84  Luis Muñoz Rivera St. in Barrio Contorno, to New York’s Acacia Network, Inc. and its affiliate on the island, Acacia Puerto Rico, Inc., for the nominal worth of one dollar because it was registered as a non-profit entity.

The property has an extension of 12,105.41 square meters.

“The municipality can’t cede any land, because selling it for one dollar is gifting it, to any profitable company. Acacia Puerto Rico is a front because that entity organized an affiliate under its name, Palacio Dorado, LLC, with the purpose of circumscribing the law. Palacio Dorado is a profitable company and the municipality couldn’t give it any land or property. Here lies the illegality of this transaction,” added the pro-statehood politician.

Rodríguez Miranda said Toa Alta hasn’t signed any writing, neither the public one nor the segregation one related to the transaction, which is another clear violation of Puerto Rico’s Municipal Law.

“As if this wasn’t enough, it has been 15 days since the mayor announced the signing of an alleged adjudication contract and it still isn’t filed witb the Comptroller’s Office. All this raises many questions. We can’t forget that this was the administration that made ‘disappeared’ documents of hundreds of benefactors from  Section 8 federal program in 2013, which had been fined on multiple occasions for lack of transparency on the municipal landfill’s administration. We demand the mayor talk clearly to the people of Toa Alta, to show the construction contract, the sales contract, to tell us who  it benefits, because it isn’t the municipality, which won’t generate anything from this transaction, nothing,” he maintained.

Hernández Vivoni believes the transaction only benefits Acacia Puerto Rico and leaves the municipality in obscurity, with nothing to show for a land valued in more than one million dollars.

“According to the documentation we will present the press today, the municipality didn’t just hand the land, but all gave that company a tax credit of more than $300,000. This is a round business for Acacia; the great loser is the municipality. This type of transaction isn’t made. Regularly there are collaboration agreements in which both parts, municipality and company, are benefitted. This is not what happened in this case,” the NPP legislator commented.

To conclude, Rodríguez Miranda warned Housing Secretary Alberto Lastra and other officials involved in this transaction, that the case will be evaluated detailedly and those who failed the people will be held accountable.

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