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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Governor: Mayor’s legal troubles are a distraction that Ponce doesn’t need

Ponce Mayor Luis Irizarry Pabón

By The Star Staff

Although he did not get to the point of requesting the resignation of Ponce Mayor Luis Irizarry Pabón, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said Wednesday that the mayor’s legal troubles are a distraction and that Ponceños need a full-time mayor.

The Office of the Special Independent Prosecutor Panel accepted a Justice Department recommendation to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Irizarry Pabón for allegedly giving a loan book to municipal employees to pay off campaign debt.

“We are talking about the Justice Department prosecutors understanding that there are probable grounds to believe that crimes were committed. An SIP panel has validated the recommendation,” Pierluisi said. “I see that this, which worries me, is a great distraction for that mayor because it appears to be a severe matter. We’ll see what the appointed special prosecutor decides. My concern is that the town of Ponce is well cared for. You need a full-time mayor.”

Pierluisi acknowledged that the matter has yet to reach the courts but expressed concern about how complicated the scenario has become for the mayor.

Irizarry Pabón issued a statement after the notification from the Special Independent Prosecutor Panel, which he described as a fruitless distraction.

“Today, I received notice from the Special Independent Prosecutor Panel regarding the appointment of a prosecutor to thoroughly investigate the Justice Department referral,” he said. “I have always respected our institutions of law and order. I am confident this investigation will clarify the entire situation indicated and show I have not committed a crime.”

“The Ponceños will not continue to fall into fruitless distractions,” the mayor added. “Meanwhile, I, together with our colleagues from the Autonomous Municipality of Ponce and the legislative teams of the House and Senate, will continue to focus on the work that Ponce needs done to get out of oblivion and leave behind those 12 years that the administration of the New Progressive Party submerged it in.”

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