Judge mulls use of gag order in Vázquez Garced corruption case
By The Star Staff
The U.S. District Court gave all parties involved in the indictment against former Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced until Thursday to show cause why the court should not ban them from speaking publicly about the case.
The move is to avoid contaminating the jury that will decide the fate of Vázquez Garced, who pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, conspiracy and wire fraud in connection with her 2020 election campaign.
The court plans to enjoin the following parties from divulging, talking to, or discussing with, the press, media and public, including without limitation, through social media networks, any information other than that entered without restriction on the docket or disclosed in open court, related to the facts of the captioned case. The parties are the United States Department of Justice, United States attorney, assistant United States attorneys, and their staff, employees, agents, and any other person in their office with access to case-related information or facts; federal law enforcement officers and their staff, employees, agents, and any other person in their offices with access to case-related information or facts; the defendants, Wanda Vázquez Garced, Julio M. Herrera Velutini, and Mark T. Rossini, their legal counsel, representatives, agents, and staff with access to case-related information or facts; and all potential witnesses.
Vázquez Garced, who stated last week after her arrest and in her first appearance in federal court in Hato Rey that the process was “an injustice,” resigned from the formal arraignment.
Her lawyer, Ignacio Fernández de Lahongrais, entered a plea of not guilty on all counts on Aug. 6.
The court also issued a reminder of its continuous obligation to disclose all material exculpatory evidence.
Vázquez Garced faces a trial on seven criminal charges along with the co-defendants, the banker Herrera Velutini, and the former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Rossini. Among the signs of the conspiracy was the change of commissioner of the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions (OCIF), for which Vázquez Garced appointed Víctor Rodríguez Bonilla, a former consultant with Bancrédito, which is owned by Herrera Velutini.
Vázquez Garced held the position of governor by order of constitutional succession after the resignation of Ricardo Rosselló Nevares in the summer of 2019.
The former governor lost in the primaries in 2020 against now-Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia.