Political Corruption Case Enters the Home Stretch
SAN JUAN—Federal prosecutors reviewed on Monday all the evidence presented in the case against four co-defendants involved with former Popular Democratic Party (PPD) fundraiser Anaudi Javier Hernández Pérez, and asked the jury to issue a guilty verdict during their closing arguments.
“The evidence proved each of the charges for the four co-defendants. The government proved the case with testimony and documents. We have the testimonies, which were corroborated by other witnesses, and by what I call corroboration by documents, which is important because these papers were being created as events were taking place,” Timothy Henwood, one of the federal prosecutors, said alongside fellow prosecutor José Capó Iriarte.
During 20 days, the federal prosecution sat 30 witnesses in its attempt for prove three public corruption schemes allegedly orchestrated by Pérez Hernández with co-defendants Sally Lopez, former director of Workforce Development Administration (ADL); Ivonne Falcón, former Vice President of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Authority (Prasa); her sister Marielis Falcon and Glenn Rivera Pizarro, former assistant to the administrator of the House of Representatives, Xavier Gonzalez.
During closing arguments Monday, Henwood made a summary of the 30 witnesses and chronologically reviewed the dates of documents admitted as evidence and which seek to corroborate various testimonies.
“Let’s start with Sally Lopez. You heard Anaudi Hernández saying he helped appoint her to head the ADL, and the testimony of Hector Vargas and Senator Mari Tere González corroborated it. You saw an email that Sen. González sent Anaudi on the positive review confirming Sally’s appointment. That’s what we call corroboration,” said Henwood, who began his closing arguments at 10:09 a.m. and continued unabated until 12:30 p.m., when the federal judge Pedro Delgado interrupted for lunch break.
Henwood reminded the jury of six men and six women that the evidence against the former Prasa vice-president Ivonne Falcón Nieves, which consisted of Hernández Pérez’s testimony on various proposals submitted by the company to the utility, was confirmed by his former business partner Hector Vargas in court.
“You heard Héctor Sanabria (Prasa employee), who said that the proposals by Anaudi were taken to Barreto and Falcón. You also witnessed multiple emails between Barreto, Falcón and Anaudi, with the latter discussing proposals for Prasa,” said the federal prosecutor.
Then, Henwood said that the federal evidence against Marielis Falcón consisted of the testimony of Ramón Crespo, a Prasa contractor.
The witness for the prosecution had said during the trial that he paid bribes to the Yvone’s sister, Marielis, in exchange for her to help speed up the collection of bills that were stalled at the utility.
“You saw two checks that Ramón Crespo paid to contractors working on the Marielis’s house, and listened to those two people say that they did not know Crespo and that they exchanged checks with Marielis so she could purchase [construction] materials,” he explained.
The federal prosecutor continued his arguments reviewing the evidence against co-defendant Glenn Rivera Pizarro, which consisted of the testimony of the former information technology director of the House of Representatives, Víctor Burgos. Burgos said that he was pressured by Rivera Pizarro to sign a contract with 3Comm Global, Hernández Pérez’s company, to replace a telephone switchboard system in the legislative chamber, even though he understood that the company lacked experience and knowledge to carry out the job.
“You saw a letter from Glenn Rivera discussing the proposal awarded to 3Comm and this is corroborated by the testimony of Víctor Burgos,” the federal prosecutor said.
Then, Henwood asked the jury to remember the periods in which various events occurred in relation to the three corruption schemes that took place from 2013 to 2015.
“Do not forget that it was during the time that Anaudi was the fundraiser of Gov. Alejandro García Padilla, Sen. Mari Tere González [and] House Speaker Jaime Perelló. Do not forget that all this happened during the time that Anaudi was a member of Perelló’s finance committee. It was during the same time in which Sonia Barreto and Ivonne Falcón knew he could help [their interests]. You have to focus on the time in which Ramón Crespo, the Prasa contractor, received the bill payments received when Ivonne was the treasurer who authorized the checks and his sister Marielis collected them. The time frame we are focusing on is that during which Jaime Perelló’s friend was helped by the House for the 3Comm contract,” he said.
The federal prosecutor asked the jury that when they hear allegations by the defense saying that the blame should fall solely on Anaudi Hernández, Héctor Vargas and Víctor Burgos, to “remember that this was not done by themselves” and asked them to use common sense when deliberating.
Today, the defense of the co-defendants will make their final arguments and then the federal will have a turn for rebuttal, to be carried out by federal prosecutor Jose Capó Iriarte.
Once arguments culminate, Federal Judge Pedro Delgado will give the jury instructions so they can later retire to deliberate.