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Former Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vazquez Indicted for Bribery

Puerto Rico governor under investigation

Former Puerto Rico governorWanda Vasquez was arrested Thursday on bribery charges related to the financing of the 2020 campaign.

Two of her other unidentified people were arrested along with her, said an official not authorized to speak on the federal case.

Vazquez alleged that from December 2019 until June 2020 she was involved in a bribery scheme with multiple individuals, including a Venezuelan-Italian banker, a former FBI agent, a bank president, and a political consultant. accused of being involved.

Puerto Rico Governor Arrested
Gov. Wanda Vazquez Holds Press Conference to Announce Extension of COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Order, May Reopen Carlos Giusti/AP

According to consultants US Department of Justice identified as John Blakeman and A bank president, identified as Francis Diaz, pleaded guilty to participating in a bribery scheme.

In early 2019, a bank owned by Julio Martín Herrera Velutini was under scrutiny by Puerto Rico's Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions.

According to authorities, Herrera and Mark Rossini, a former FBI agent who provided consulting services to Herrera, agreed that Vazquez's commission would be replaced by Vasquez's dismissal of the commissioner and the appointment of a new commissioner of Herrera's choosing. He is said to have pledged to financially support his 2020 gubernatorial campaign.

Authorities said Vazquez accepted the bribe offer and demanded the commissioner's resignation in February 2020. She was then accused of appointing a former consultant to Herrera's bank as the new commissioner in May 2020. After the move, officials said Herrera and Bertini paid political consultants more than her $300,000 to help with Vazquez's campaign.

Vazquez, Herrera, and Rossini were each charged with conspiracy, federal bribery, and bona fide services wire fraud. Officials said she could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty on all counts.

Vazquez spokesman Juan Rosado Reines told The Associated Press that he had no immediate comment.

In mid-May, Vazquez's attorney told reporters that he and his client were preparing for possible charges because the then-former governor had denied any wrongdoing. As I always say, that I am not involved in any illegal or unfair act. "

Vasquez was her second woman to serve as governor of Puerto Rico and the first former governor to be held federally accountable. Former governor Anibal Acevedo Villa was indicted for campaign finance violations while in office and was acquitted in 2009. He was the first governor of Puerto Rico to be indicted for a crime in recent history.

Vazquez took office after former Gov. Ricardo Rocero resigned following mass protests in August 2019. She held office until her 2021, after which she lost the New Progressive Party primary to current Pedro Gov. Pierluisi.

In a statement on Thursday, Mr Pierluisi said his administration will work with federal authorities to help fight corruption.

"No one is above the law in Puerto Rico," he said. "In the face of this news that will certainly affect and undermine public confidence, my administration will continue to maintain a united front with federal authorities, no matter where they come from or who may have done wrong. I repeat, it may be relevant."

Vazquez previously served as the island's Attorney General and District Attorney for more than 30 years.

She became governor after Puerto Rico's Supreme Court ruled that Pierluigi's oath of office was unconstitutional in 2019 when he was secretary of state. Vazquez said at the time that she had no interest in running for public office and that she would only have nearly two years left in Rocero's term.

After tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans took to the streets, angered by corruption, mismanagement of public funds, and lewd conversations in which her 11 men, including civil servants, made fun of women. , Rocero resigned. Such as homosexuals and victims of Hurricane Maria.

Shortly after his inauguration, Mr. Vazquez told his AP that the priorities were fighting corruption, securing federal hurricane recovery funding, and helping Puerto Rico, whose government struggles to pull itself out of bankruptcy. He said it was to save him from a severe economic crisis.

During her interview, she told her AP that she had long wanted to run for public office. When she was a little girl she stood on her balcony conducting imaginary trials, always convicting the supposed accused.

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