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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Businessman allegedly says on tape that his lawyer told him to donate to super PAC

Caridad Pierluisi, left, and Gov. Pedro Pierluisi

By The Star Staff

Ricky Castro, owner of Castro Business Enterprises, which has the military stores concession of the National Guard Trust, allegedly appeared in an audio recording saying that his lawyer, Andrés Guillemard, instructed him to donate to the Salvamos a Puerto Rico (Save Puerto Rico) super PAC.

Guillemard is the brother-in-law of Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia and last week was identified by los Rayos-X as one of the individuals named in the indictment against Joseph Fuentes Fernández, who pleaded guilty to federal charges of concealing super PAC donor information.

Pierluisi denied that his brother-in-law participated in the coordination of his political campaign, which was run by his sister and Guillemard’s wife, Caridad Pierluisi.

However, Sandra Rodríguez Cotto, who has a blog called “En Blanco y Negro,” released an audio recording in which Castro points to Guillemard as instructing him to donate to the Save Puerto Rico campaign, which may be seen as proof of a coordination between Pierluisi’s campaign and Save Puerto Rico, a violation of the law.

Castro said in the tape that he wanted to create a PAC to attack the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) San Juan candidate Rossana López, but that Guillemard told him not to waste his money.

He said Guillemard told him that a super PAC was going to be created after which he offered to donate $50,000. He said he donated the funds under his Castro Vicens Enterprises but in the Save Puerto Rico PAC the donation appears as a donation from National Guard Exchange.

Castro in the past was involved in the COVID-19 test purchase scandal.

The STAR contacted Castro for a comment but an employee said he was off the island. Guillemard was not available for comment at his office.

PDP Rep. Orlando Aponte Rosario, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, called upon the governor and his sister to explain the tape.

“The Department of Justice in Puerto Rico is conspicuous by its absence regarding the investigation and filing of cases of corruption,” the lawmaker said. “We now have to trust federal authorities to be the ones who present the cases of corruption, because in Puerto Rico we have the Office of the Special Independent Prosecutor Panel, which is totally politicized and costs taxpayers millions of dollars.”

Fuentes Fernández pleaded guilty recently to falsifying, concealing, or concealing by scheme, the identity of the donors who contributed $495,000 to the Save Puerto Rico campaign against Pierluisi’s rivals in the 2020 election campaign.

“I don’t know who it implicates, but already -- as I have stated previously -- what is prohibited by both federal and state law is any type of coordination of the electoral activities of my campaign and any PAC, and in my case, as I I have said repeatedly, my committee did not coordinate its electoral activities with that PAC or any other PAC,” the governor said last week.

Pierluisi said the Office of the Electoral Comptroller investigated complaints on the matter and “they did not prosper because there was no such coordination.”

The indictment against Fuentes mentions that Individual 1, an associate of the governor and a significant fundraiser for his campaign, discussed with him aspects of a plan to create ghost entities, posing as donors. The Rayos X program said Individual 1 is Guillemard.

“Regarding the activities of the PAC in question, the federal authorities have already expressed themselves at the highest level,” the governor said. “The crime that was committed was to provide false information to the Federal Election Commission and is being prosecuted.”

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