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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Governor’s cousin gets over 3 1/2 years in prison for role in fraud scheme

Walter Pierluisi Isern

By The Star Staff

Walter Pierluisi Isern, a businessman and cousin of Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia, received a sentence of 43 months in prison on Tuesday for his participation in a scheme to contract and issue fraudulent checks, Judge Camille Vélez Rivé announced.

The scheme consisted of inflating invoices and presenting false certifications to embezzle $3.7 million in federal funds, intended for services for more than 5,000 public housing units in a dozen municipalities. In addition to the prison sentence, Pierluisi Isern will face two years of supervised release and must reimburse more than $2 million once he is released.

The businessman admitted in April that he used his company, American Management and Administration Corp. (AMAC), to win multi-year contracts with the Public Housing Administration and divert funds from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development for work on public residences. In total, Pierluisi Isern obtained more than $2 million through the fraudulent scheme, which included issuing checks from the companies FiveStar Pest Control and CoolBreeze Air Conditioning to three companies under his control.

The verdict came as part of a plea deal, in which prosecutors recommended a sentence of between 37 and 46 months in prison for Pierluisi Isern, although the businessman could have faced up to 10 years in jail and a fine of $250,000. The sentencing of Pierluisi Isern is part of a series of cases related to the fraud scheme, which includes his brother, Eduardo Pierluisi Isern, and the former financial director of AMAC, David Vélez Hernández, whose sentencing is expected soon. Eduardo Pierluisi Isern was sentenced to two years in prison after admitting his guilt in the appropriation of federal funds.

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