Ex-Guaynabo mayor not willing to plead guilty to all charges, complicating plea bargain negotiations
By The Star Staff
Former Guaynabo Mayor Ángel Pérez Otero, who is facing trial on federal corruption charges, is willing to plead guilty to some but not to all of the crimes he is being accused of, making it difficult to negotiate a plea bargain with federal prosecutors, his lawyer Osvaldo Carlo said Tuesday.
“He is willing to accept some charges but not all of the brunt of the charges contained in the indictment,” Carlo said in a radio interview (Radio Isla).
After making an initial offer, federal prosecutor Scott Anderson has not come up with other plea bargaining arrangements, Carlo said.
The former Guaynabo mayor was arrested in December 2021 on charges of conspiracy, soliciting a bribe and extortion. The indictment alleges that Pérez Otero was involved in a bribery conspiracy in which, from late 2019 through May 2021, he received and accepted $5,000 cash payments on a regular basis from a person identified as Individual A. In exchange for these payments, the mayor allegedly agreed to obtain and retain contracts for Company A, a construction company, and ensured that Company A’s invoices were promptly paid. The indictment alleges that Individual A regularly met in secret with Pérez Otero to pay him cash bribes and kickbacks.
While Carlo indicated that his client is open to accepting some degree of responsibility for the charges, Pérez Otero has no information to give prosecutors about other people who have committed crimes of corruption.
“In a negotiation that aspect comes up, but our client has no information. Possibly if that aspect was there, we would have already reached an agreement,” Carlo said. “But he is not and has not been a potential cooperator.”
A widely published photograph of Pérez Otero taking what appears to be a bundle of cash was provided in the court documents of the case as proof that he received bribes. However, Carlo said the photograph will not be part of the federal indictment.
“That confusion is felt by almost everyone,” he said. “That photo appears as an attachment to a motion filed by the federal prosecutor’s office, to request a higher bail.”
Carlo indicated that the public impact of the photo will be important in the process of selecting an objective and impartial jury, and in fact, it will be included as a question to potential jurors.