Motions filed to dismiss criminal charges against Mayagüez mayor
By The Star Staff
The attorney for Mayagüez Mayor José Guillermo Rodríguez Rodríguez said Tuesday that he is seeking the dismissal of criminal charges against the mayor in connection with a scheme carried out by several individuals to defraud the western coastal municipality out of $9 million.
Harry Padilla, Rodríguez’s lawyer, said in a radio interview that he filed motions in court to have the embezzlement of public funds and negligence in the fulfillment of duties charges against the mayor dismissed. A judge imposed a $100,000 total bond against the mayor after finding cause to arrest him. The city’s financial director, Yahaira Valentín Andrade, was also charged.
According to the Office of the Special Independent Prosecutor, Rodríguez allowed certain individuals to invest $9 million in municipal funds in a scheme to defraud the city. The Municipal Assembly had allocated the funds to the Mayagüez Trauma Center.
Padilla had argued unsuccessfully at a recent court hearing that the mayor was ripped off and that the scam was examined by banking institutions, the FBI and the Comptroller’s Office, all of which had not charged the mayor.
In 2016, Eugenio García Jiménez Jr. told municipal officials that he could invest some $9 million of the municipality’s funds with no risk to principal and earn the city annual returns of around 10%. The city intended to use returns from the investment to fund municipal projects, including the construction of a new trauma center.
However, García Jiménez falsified documents, including bank correspondence and brokerage opening documents, to convince municipal officials to entrust him with the municipality’s funds. Instead of executing an investment strategy designed to generate the promised returns, García Jiménez purchased U.S. Treasury notes, immediately took out a margin loan pledging the notes as collateral and, over a period of six months, misappropriated $7.1 million by transferring funds to himself, entities he controlled, and his associates.
The scheme took place through MEDI, a public for-profit corporation created with the purpose of promoting the economic development of Mayagüez and the western region of Puerto Rico, generating jobs, supporting infrastructure projects, and improving the quality of life of citizens.
In March 2021, federal officials charged García Jiménez and six others with wire fraud related to an alleged scheme to defraud the municipality.