Comptroller probe of air conditioning service contracting at Aguadilla Head Start leads to referrals
By The Star Staff
The Comptroller of Puerto Rico on Monday published the result of an investigation into the bidding process, contracting and payments for removal and installation services involving air conditioning units in Head Start centers in Aguadilla from 2018 to 2019.
The referral from the office’s Municipalities Division to the Special Investigations Division pointed out discrepancies in the documents presented by the authorized representative of the contractor in the bid proposal, in the formalization of the contract and in the billing for payment of the indicated services.
The investigation revealed that, at the bidding award, signing of the contract and related payments, the authorized representative of the contractor provided copies of two forged identifications from the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technicians Association that contained false information. The contract was awarded on Nov. 30, 2018 and was formalized for $177,652 with validity from Dec. 4, 2018 to March 23, 2019.
The auditors found that the representative does not appear as a refrigeration technician in the Association or in the Examining Board. The license number that he presented actually belongs to “technician A” and the receipt number for the membership fee belongs to “technician B.” In fact, technician A indicated to the Comptroller’s auditors that he does not know the representative and that he never provided services for the aforementioned contract.
Based on those actions, the representative could have committed the crimes of fraud, forgery of documents, ideological falsehood, or perjury, among others, typified in Law 146-2012, Penal Code of Puerto Rico, as amended.
In addition, the contractor’s authorized representative signed a sworn statement in which he swore before a notary public that he had not been convicted of crimes that disqualified him from contracting with the municipality. However, the individual had pleaded guilty to aggravated illegal appropriation on May 19, 2003.
The result of the investigation was referred to the Secretary of Justice on May 18 of this year, to the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Jan. 19, and to the president of the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technicians Examining Board, to take the measures they deem pertinent.
In addition, the measure suggested that the Aguadilla mayor carry out the pertinent processes and ensure that the president of the municipal bidding board establishes the necessary controls to validate the certifications and licenses issued by a professional association, among others.
The result of the investigation dated Aug. 17, 2022 is available at www.ocpr.gov.pr.