The San Juan Daily Star
Justice Dept. prosecuting fraud cases involving solar systems
By The Star Staff
The Justice Department is investigating several cases related to the sale of solar panel systems.
“Currently, the Economic Crimes Division is litigating several cases involving construction fraud, financial exploitation, and misappropriation related to selling and installing solar systems,” Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández in a written statement. “These are some of the most common crimes linked to this situation. One of the cases is in the preliminary hearing stage. The accused is Gabriel López López, owner of Virtuosity Company, who charged over $133,000 but never completed the installation.”
On July 11, prosecutor Ileana Martínez Rosado filed three charges against López. On the same day, Judge Melissa Santiago of the Superior Court in Utuado determined a cause for arrest. She imposed a $30,000 bail on the accused. The contractor remains in an electronic shackle.
“These cases are handled by the prosecutors’ offices of the judicial districts throughout the island, but when they exceed $50,000 or involve a scheme committed in different regions or municipalities, they are referred to the Economic Crimes Division,” the Justice secretary said.
Another ongoing investigation is being carried out in coordination with the Puerto Rico Police Bureau’s Aguadilla Criminal Investigations Corps related to the same company and its owner.
“It should be noted that Department of Justice prosecutors are in charge of prosecuting criminal cases in which there is intent to defraud; for example, when a person commits to installing the system but does not intend to comply,” said prosecutor Rodney Ríos Medina, director of the Economic Crimes Division.
Cases that are not criminal in nature are handled through civil or administrative channels. In general, complaints related to warranty, malfunction or noncompliance with any of the clauses of the agreed contract are regulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs or settled in the courts between private parties. In such cases, the Department of Justice does not intervene.
“However, if any agency or entity believes that it may have before it a case with elements of a criminal nature, it must refer the information to the Police Bureau, which carries out the first stage of the investigation and, subsequently, consults with the Department of Justice for the filing of charges,” Ríos Medina said.