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Misla Aldarondo, an ex-House speaker who spent a dozen years in prison, dies


Edison Misla Aldarondo

By The Star Staff


Former Speaker of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives Edison Misla Aldarondo died Tuesday after suffering two heart attacks.


Misla Aldarondo was a representative for the New Progressive Party (NPP) until 2001, when he resigned on charges of extortion and money laundering.


“A few minutes ago we learned of the death of the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Edison Misla Aldarondo. We regret the physical departure of one of the most fiery politicians of his time,” said NPP Rep. Carlos “Johnny” Méndez Núñez, who also served as House speaker. “On behalf of all the members of the NPP delegation in the House, we would like to express our deepest condolences to the Edison Misla family. Likewise, we extend our feelings of solidarity to all his friends and relatives in these difficult times.”


“Our prayers are with his children, Edison Reynaldo, Yamil and Omar, throughout this process,” he added. “We are sure that the Lord will give them the peace and tranquility they need.”


According to a biography in criminallaws.com, Misla Aldarondo served as a member of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives from 1977 until the scandals and legal problems that led to his resignation in 2002. The primary legal scandal surrounding Misla Aldarondo had its origins in the mid-1990s, when Puerto Rico began the process of privatizing its formerly state-operated hospitals. This process was overseen by two government entities, the Puerto Rico Department of Health (PRDH) and the Government Development Bank (GDB).


Misla Aldarondo was involved in influence peddling related to Dr. Alejandro Otero López Hospital (HAOL) in Manatí, which at that time was managed by the Caribbean Hospital Organization (CHC). HAOL received anesthesiology from Caribbean Anesthesia Services (CAS), which wished to purchase the hospital.


To effect this, the co-owners of CAS hired consultant José Iván Ramos Cubano to assist in the transaction. Cubano first arranged for a meeting with the head of the legal department of PRDH and bribed him to allow CAS to purchase CHC’s management contract, a necessary preliminary step to acquiring the hospital as a whole. Once that was done, Cubano approached Misla Aldarondo, a close friend of the president of the GDB, Marcos Rodríguez Ema. Misla Aldarondo allegedly accepted a bribe to arrange meetings between the anesthesiology company and the GDB.


In 1997, a law firm reviewing the potential hospital buyers warned that CAS should not be allowed to complete the transaction because it owed a substantive debt to the PRDH. But Rodríguez Ema overruled that recommendation and arranged for CAS to purchase the hospital for $14 million. Rodríguez Ema also created an agreement to allow CAS to repay its debt to PRDH at a later date. Following the successful transaction, Misla Aldarondo received payments totaling $147,000 from the hospital’s new owners.


A 2001 investigation by the Puerto Rico Department of Justice led authorities to Cubano, who agreed to cooperate. In October 2001, Cubano recorded conversations he had with Misla Aldarondo. In the recordings, Misla Aldarondo openly discussed his illegal actions and outlined plans to create a false story concerning the payments he had received.


In 2004, he was found guilty of 15 charges of corruption in relation to the fraudulent sale of the hospital, and was sentenced to nine years in jail, for a total of 22 years in prison.


In addition to his involvement in corrupt privatization practices, in 2002 Misla Aldarondo was charged with rape of a minor. According to witnesses, Misla Aldarondo had taken advantage of a friend of his stepdaughter by giving both girls alcohol and prescription medication. During the hearings, it emerged that Misla Aldarondo had also molested his stepdaughter periodically over the course of eight years. Following his incarceration, Misla Aldarondo negotiated with the prosecution to plead guilty to attempted rape rather than rape, for which he was sentenced to an additional 13 years in prison.


He was paroled in 2015.

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