Judge sentences former NPP lawmaker to 57 months in jail
By The Star Staff
U.S. District Court judge Silvia Carreño Coll sentenced former New Progressive Party Rep. Nelson del Valle to 57 months in prison Wednesday over his role in a bribery and kickback scheme.
The judge also sentenced Mildred Estrada Rojas to 30 months in prison and Nickolle Santos Estrada to 46 months in jail. The two were employees in the representative’s office.
Del Valle and the two employees had pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme in March. The plea bargain agreement includes restitution of $190,000.
Last year, a federal grand jury returned an eight-count indictment against Del Valle Colon, Santos-Estrada, and her mother Estrada-Rojas for their alleged participation in a multi-year theft, bribery, and kickback conspiracy.
According to the allegations in the indictment, in early 2017, Del Valle fraudulently inflated the salaries of Santos, Estrada, and another individual for no legitimate reason. He agreed that the employees would keep a portion for themselves out of their inflated paychecks and kick back the other part, generally between approximately $500 and $2,000, to Del Valle.
The defendants used a variety of means to transfer the kickbacks to Del Valle. Santos, Estrada, and the other individual would sometimes transfer cash by hand to Del Valle. They would also periodically send kickbacks in approximately $500 increments to Del Valle using ATH Móvil, a mobile phone application that allows individuals who bank at certain financial institutions to send money to each other through an interface on their cell phones.