Contractor pleads guilty in Cataño bribery case
By John McPhaul
Contractor Mario Villegas Vargas, 42, pleaded guilty Wednesday to participating in a bribery scheme involving then-Cataño Mayor Félix “El Cano” Delgado Montalvo for municipal contracts that benefited Villegas Vargas’s asphalt and paving company.
Beginning in or about June 2017, Villegas Vargas and “Individual B,” co-owners of an asphalt and paving company, conspired to pay bribes and kickbacks to Delgado Montalvo, who at the time was the mayor of Cataño. The purpose of the payments was to help ensure that his company was awarded and would continue to be awarded municipal contracts as opportunities arose in Cataño, according to authorities.
Villegas Vargas and Individual B together paid more than $95,000 in bribes to the then-mayor Delgado Montalvo in exchange for asphalt removal and concrete paving contracts in the municipality.
Villegas Vargas pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to participate in a bribery scheme. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. A U.S. District Court judge will determine a sentence after considering federal sentencing guidelines and other legal factors.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite Jr. of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, and Special Agent in Charge Joseph González of the FBI Field Office in San Juan made the announcement.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s San Juan Field Office.
Trial attorneys Nicholas Cannon and Ryan Crosswell of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Erbe of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico are prosecuting the case.