Ex-Guaynabo Mayor O’Neill pleads guilty in plea deal
By The Star Staff
Former Guaynabo Mayor Héctor O’Neill García pleaded guilty on Wednesday after reaching an agreement with the prosecution ahead of a trial in which he faced charges of sexual assault, Act 54 domestic abuse and harassment in the workplace, along with a violation of the Government Ethics Law.
Judge María Trigo Ferraiouli reportedly accepted the reclassification of crimes, as well as the removal of the electronic bracelet used by O’Neill García.
The former mayor of Guaynabo said his guilty plea was made “freely and voluntarily.”
Last week, the ex-mayor’s defense team, led by attorney Harry Padilla, waived the right to a jury trial.
In 2017, the Justice secretary recommended that a special independent prosecutor be assigned to O’Neill, who, according to the Justice Department’s investigation, could have committed 20 law violations against two victims. The Justice secretary said O’Neill made a transactional agreement with a woman involved, a municipal police officer who made the sexual harassment suit against the mayor public. The other victim, a woman whose identity wasn’t revealed, resides abroad, but “had agreed to cooperate.”
The Office of the Special Independent Prosecutor Panel agreed to appoint an SIP and also announced the mayor’s suspension. The office at the time ordered O’Neill to immediately abandon municipal installations and to hand over all municipal property in his possession, including cars, phones, computers, credit cards, gas cards, documents and files, among other items. He resigned on June 5, 2017.
In 1993, after the sudden death of Guaynabo Mayor Alejandro Cruz, O’Neill decided to run for the seat. He was elected in a special election in 1993 and was reelected for five consecutive terms.