By The Star Staff
Former Guaynabo Mayor Ángel Pérez Otero was sentenced to five years and three months in prison Monday for his role in a construction bribery scheme.
He also must perform 160 hours of community service. Pérez Otero had been convicted last year of conspiracy, federal bribery and extortion, the U.S. Justice Department said. He faced a maximum penalty of 20 years for extortion and 10 years for bribery.
His defense lawyers said they would be appealing the sentence.
Court documents show that between 2019 and 2021, Pérez Otero, also a former lawmaker who chaired the Treasury Committee in the island House of Representatives, received thousands of dollars in kickbacks from a local construction company in exchange for awarding them municipal contracts.
In March 2023, a jury made up of 10 women and two men found him guilty in federal court.
The courtroom was presided over by U.S. District Judge Aida Delgado Colón.
Pérez Otero was placed under arrest by FBI agents on Dec. 9, 2021, after a Colombian businessman, Oscar Santamaría, along with former Cataño Mayor Félix “el Cano” Delgado Montalvo, agreed with the Federal Prosecutor’s Office to reveal a scheme in which businessmen paid bribes in exchange for contracts.
Federal authorities revealed images in which Santamaría gave the money to Pérez Otero, a former president of the Puerto Rico Mayors Federation.
For similar types of schemes, the mayors of Guayama, Eduardo Cintrón Suárez; Aguas Buenas, Luis Arroyo Chiqués and Javier García Pérez; and Trujillo Alto, José Luis Cruz Cruz, reached plea agreements.
Pérez Otero was the only mayor who did not accept a plea deal.
According to the accusation, Pérez Otero received about $5,000 a month from the end of 2018 to August 2021 from Santamaría in exchange for contracts for the company Island Builders.
The case was prosecuted by attorneys Nicholas Cannon, of the Justice Department’s criminal division’s public integrity section and Myriam Fernández-González of the District of Puerto Rico.