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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Jury in Pérez Otero corruption trial to deliberate after closing arguments

Former Guaynabo Mayor Ángel Pérez Otero

By The Star Staff

The presentation of evidence in the corruption case against former Guaynabo Mayor Ángel Pérez Otero ended Tuesday without the defendant’s testimony.

The jury was sent away, and today they will hear the closing arguments in the case before starting to deliberate.

The defense questioned one witness, Ramón Torres Gómez, the ex-husband of Liza Fernández, who is now the wife of Pérez Otero. Torres Gómez chaired the Auction Board of the Municipality of Guaynabo. In response to questions from defense lawyer Osvaldo Carlos Linares, Torres Gómez indicated that the former mayor did not pressure him to favor any company belonging to the main prosecution witness in the case, Oscar Santamaría, a city contractor.

According to published reports, Torres Gómez, who described himself as a friend of Pérez Otero, was fired in December 2021. The trial is taking place in the courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge Aida Delgado.

This testimony would serve, if the jury believes it, to demonstrate that Pérez Otero did not exert any influence to benefit Santamaría. Pérez Otero has said the money he received from Santamaría was to pay for campaign debt. Still, Santamaría said he paid kickbacks to the former mayor to obtain and keep contracts with the city.

Earlier in the morning, prosecutors questioned Marisol Monserrate Conde, director of the Head Start program in Guaynabo, to demonstrate federal jurisdiction in the case and also brought to the stand Abraham Espada, auditor of the Office of the Electoral Comptroller, who testified that the money that Santamaría gave Pérez Otero was not reported as campaign contributions.

Likewise, Leisa Alejandro Castro, an employee of the island Treasury Department, testified that Pérez Otero did not report the money he received from Santamaría as income.

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