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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Ex-Trujillo Alto mayor’s deputy gets 30 months for bribery

Former Trujillo Alto mayor José Luis Cruz Cruz

By The Star Staff

Radames Benítez Cardona, the former executive assistant to then-Trujillo Alto Mayor José Luis Cruz Cruz, was sentenced late last week by U.S. District Court Judge Pedro Delgado Hernández to serve 30 months in prison, U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow announced.

“The citizens of Trujillo Alto entrusted the defendant with serving their communities with honesty and integrity; instead, he engaged in an illegal scheme and used his position for personal gain,” Muldrow said in a written statement.

“Public officials who fail to faithfully fulfill the duties of their office, and those who conspire with them, will be investigated, prosecuted and punished for their actions,” he added.

Benítez Cardona pleaded guilty on Nov. 30, 2022, and admitted to receiving monthly bribes from a municipal waste management contractor, including separate cash payments of $17,250 on May 22, 2021, June 12, 2021, and July 25, 2021.

According to court documents, Benítez Cardona enriched himself by accepting bribes in exchange for obtaining municipal contracts for a waste management contractor when opportunities arose. The scheme required Individual A to pay a monthly bribe of 75 cents per house to defendant Benítez Cardona in connection with a 2018 Trujillo Alto municipal contract awarded to Company A for garbage collection. The monthly bribe amounted to about $17,250 for 23,000 homes.

In addition, Benítez Cardona agreed to give a portion of the bribe money to Cruz, the then-mayor of Trujillo Alto. Cruz was sentenced on Jan. 11 to 24 months in prison for his involvement in the bribery scheme.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s San Juan Field Office. Prosecutor Scott H. Anderson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico and Trial Attorney Nicholas W. Cannon of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section were in charge of the case.

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