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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Justice Dept. won’t refer Arecibo mayor’s case to PFEI

By The Star Staff

Arecibo Mayor Carlos Ramírez Irizarry commented Wednesday on the Justice Department’s decision not to refer him to the Office of the Special Independent Prosecutor Panel (PFEI by its Spanish initials) for allegations of criminal misconduct.

“I have been certain from the beginning of this investigation that the truth would come out,” Ramírez Irizarry said in response to the decision. “I always act with the highest standards and in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.”

A letter signed by Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández concludes that there is no cause to believe that the mayor engaged in criminal conduct based on the facts investigated, after a complaint filed by New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. José “Quiquito” Meléndez Ortiz.

The mayor accused the opposition NPP of seeking to “damage my image and integrity” and of encouraging agencies such as the Justice Department and the PFEI to “mobilize their resources and time to address partisan political grievances.”

The controversy arose in November 2022, when Meléndez Ortiz requested an investigation into a possible conflict of interest on the part of Ramírez Irizarry, alleging that he signed a professional services contract with the Department of Education while serving as mayor.

The letter from the Justice Department states that the evidence collected confirms that neither the mayor in his personal capacity or as mayor, nor the Municipality of Arecibo are parties to the contracts granted to Tito Ramírez Bus Service Inc. by the Education Department.

It also states that the evidence collected does not demonstrate that Ramírez Irizarry used his position as mayor to obtain unauthorized benefits for himself or others, or that he intervened to gain advantages in the business of the bus service company.

The mayor reaffirmed his innocence and called on opposition legislators to “work on identifying resources for the benefit of Arecibo and stop playing and politicking with government agencies and the resources of the people.”

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