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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Justice Dept. sues 30 former public officials convicted of corruption to recover $30 million

Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández

By The Star Staff

For the first time in the U.S. territory, the Puerto Rico Department of Justice sued more than 30 people convicted of corruption for damages and to recover millions of dollars for the public coffers lost in illegal schemes.

Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández highlighted at a press conference on Tuesday the meticulous legal analysis that led to the agency he leads filing 14 lawsuits in the San Juan Court of First Instance. The lawsuits, filed under the Anti-Corruption Code for a New Puerto Rico, aim to recover over $30 million.

Among the first sued by the Department of Justice are former mayors Ángel Pérez Otero, Luis Arroyo Chiqués, Félix Delgado Montalvo, José Luis Cruz Cruz, Abel Nazario Quiñones, Javier García Pérez, Eduardo Cintrón Suárez and Reynaldo Vargas Rodríguez. Lawsuits were also filed against former legislators María Milagros Charbonier, Nelson del Valle Colón and Néstor A. Alonso Vega.

The list includes, as co-defendants, Oscar Santamaría, Orlando Montes Rivera, Frances M. Acevedo Ceballos, Javier Benítez Cardona, Edwin Torres Gutiérrez, Claribel Rodríguez Canchani, Humberto Oscar Pagán Sánchez, Kelvin Ortiz Vergara, Ramón Enrique Martes Negrón, Juan Rosario Núñez, Erick Rondón Rodríguez, Eugenio García Jiménez, Stephen Kirkland, Alejandro José Riera Fernández, Joseph Kirkland, Arnaldo Jerónimo Irizarry Irizarry, Roberto Mejil Tellado, Raymond Rodríguez Santos and Mario Villegas Vargas. Additionally, the lawsuits included the firms Asphalt Inc. and Waste Collection Corp.

“We are going to recover the money for the Puerto Rican people and demand from them an amount that adds up to three times the damage caused by those who have illegally appropriated public funds,” the Justice chief said. “The Anti-Corruption Code allows us to claim, through civil lawsuits in state jurisdiction, public money misappropriated or illegally appropriated either by officials or people in the private sector who have failed Puerto Rico. The monetary compensation is equivalent to triple the economic damage caused to the Government of Puerto Rico through acts of corruption.”

In order to ensure the payment of damages as sentenced by the court, the Anti-Corruption Code establishes that the state may request from the court any necessary provisional order.

“The court may grant any of the provisional remedies provided for in the Rules of Civil Procedure including, without being understood as a limitation, seizure, seizure of funds in the possession of a third party and the prohibition of alienation,” reads the statute.

(A prohibition of alienation, also known as a restraint on alienation, is a restriction in a will or deed that prevents the transfer of real property in the future. Such a restriction applies to the property, not the owner.)

“With this action we send a clear and forceful message that corruption has severe consequences in Puerto Rico,” Emanuelli Hernández said. “We hope it will be a deterrent to have to return more than what they have stolen from the people who placed their trust in many of them. When they begin to feel it in their own pockets and have to pay with their assets, they will think a thousand times before touching the money that belongs to the citizens, whom they failed.”

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1 comentario

William Rosa
William Rosa
26 jun

Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández certainly address a paramount problem in Puerto Rican's politics by suing public servants found guilty of corruption. Its commendable that finally someone is doing something about unscrupulous people that take advantage of the trust the people of PR placed on them.

By reviewing the published list, two factors jumped out from the other defects these people expose; their age is the first and second, their political affiliation. While most of them are between the ages of 30 and 50 years old, the majority is affiliated to NPP. Thinking about my and my colleague's professional careers during those years, comes to mind the vicissitudes going from assistant to associate and full professor; publishing and investing time…

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