FBI Busts Fraud Ring In Puerto Rico, Arrest Former Education Secretary And 5 Others

The FBI just arrested 6 people in romantic relationship to significant fraud in Puerto Rico. The feds nabbed a couple higher-profile targets this kind of as the former Instruction Secretary and the earlier Properly currently being Insurance coverage policy Administrator.

It seems to be just typical graft – rigging contracts for individual get. Glimpse, we know Puerto Rico is a mess – you can hope this to be the first of a whole lot of indictments to seem.

Think about all the graft that took location just immediately after the hurricane and you have a very good prepare of exactly where by this is heading.

From NBC: Puerto Rico’s former secretary of instruction and 5 other people have been arrested on expenses of steering federal money to unqualified, politically linked contractors.

Federal officials claimed Wednesday that the FBI has arrested earlier Instruction Secretary Julia Keleher, former Puerto Rico Properly currently being Insurance coverage Administration head Ángela Ávila-Marrero, businessman Fernando Scherrer-Caillet and education contractors Glenda E. Ponce-Mendoza and Mayra Ponce-Mendoza, who are sisters. They facial region 32 counts of money laundering, fraud and other connected costs.

FBI director Douglas Leff also confirmed the arrest of businessman Alberto Velázquez-Piñol, who was also indicted, in the program of a push meeting Wednesday morning.

In accordance to Leff, Velázquez Piñol went to the sheriff’s workplace in Connecticut, exactly where by he existence, and turned himself in.

The alleged fraud will involve $15.five million in federal funding regarding 2017 and 2019. Thirteen million was invested by the Division of Instruction for the duration of Keleher’s time as secretary, though $two.five million was invested by the insurance coverage prepare administration when Ávila was the director.

Keleher, a indigenous of Philadelphia, drew controversy by her two-yr tenure as the island’s education secretary. She shut hundreds of educational amenities, citing the realities of a shrinking university pupil populace. She also utilized the island’s initial charter university, hoping to produce these schools’ presence.

From The Miami Herald:

U.S. Attorney for Puerto Rico Rosa Emilia Rodríguez claimed Velázquez Piñol had improperly taken benefit of contacts in the education and wellbeing and fitness insurance coverage companies to win federal contracts and illegally employed federal money to fork out for lobbying.

Glenda E. Ponce-Mendoza labored as Keleher’s assistant and the two she and her sister had been mates of the former education secretary. Officers described Keleher bypassed typical bidding solutions to steer contracts towards her near pals.

“It was alleged that the defendants engaged in a general public corruption marketing campaign and profited at the cost of the Puerto Rican citizens and college students. This sort of corruption is significantly egregious because it not only victimizes tax payers, it victimizes all those citizens and students that are in have to have of academic aid,” mentioned Neil Sanchez, individual agent in demand of the U.S. Division of Education’s Workplace of Inspector General’s Southern Region.

Rodríguez stated Gov. Ricardo Rosselló was not concerned in the investigation.

Rosselló explained he was returning early from journey in Europe to meet with legislators and members of his administration about the investigation.

“To maintain the rely on of the people today in the establishments of the govt is a consistent problem that all of us who work in general public services have,” he mentioned in a statement. “That have faith in is torn when community officials or all those connected, are accused of crimes of corruption.”

Many Puerto Rican officers all around a series of administrations have been strike by prices of corruption and misuse of sources.

“It’s a shame that we see this variety of plan, a person following an additional,” Rodríguez mentioned. “There’s much function to be accomplished in Puerto Rico … this is the variety of scenario that’s been found so considerably, involving federal money, and it’s shameful.”


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