Charbonier to resign from House seat, thinks twice about going independent

By The Star Staff

New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. María Milagros “Tata” Charbonier Laureano tendered her letter of resignation from her at-large seat in the Puerto Rico House of Representatives on Wednesday, effective Sept. 15.

“In my pondered reflection on recent events, I have decided to resign from the seat that I currently occupy as at-large House representative effective on September 15, 2020,” reads the letter sent to House Speaker Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Núñez.

Charbonier requested the period of two weeks so as to make an orderly transition. She had worked on the Penal Code and on a Civil Code, among other measures.

“I have to assume this responsibility and this will require time, commitment, a lot of effort and money. It is worth noting that this burden is not on you,” Charbonier said in the letter. “I am calm, at peace, with a clear conscience. I came here to work and I did that with responsibility and determination.”

In another letter, Charbonier had announced her disaffiliation from the NPP.

In a letter sent to Méndez earlier, Charbonier notified him of her disaffiliation from the NPP and indicated that she will continue as an independent legislator. However, she changed her mind.

Charbonier was arrested by the FBI on Monday along with her husband, their son, and an employee of her legislative office.

A federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court of Puerto Rico issued a 13-count indictment against Charbonier as well as her husband, Orlando Montes Rivera, their son, Orlando Gabriel Montes Charbonier, and Frances Acevedo Ceballos for her alleged participation over several years in a conspiracy of theft, bribery and illegal commissions.

According to the indictment’s charges, from early 2017 to July 2020, Charbonier, Montes, Montes Charbonier and Acevedo executed a scheme to defraud the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. In early 2017, Charbonier inflated Acevedo’s net salary from $800 to $2,100 biweekly. From each inflated paycheck, it was agreed that Acevedo would keep a portion and pay a kickback commission of between $1,000 and $1,500 to Charbonier, Montes and Montes Charbonier.

The lawmaker was also charged with obstruction of justice for erasing messages in her cellphone and mobile ATM account.

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