SIP recommended for case involving ex-Santa Isabel mayor
By John McPhaul
The island Department of Justice recommended on Wednesday to the Office of the Special Independent Prosecutor Panel (OPFEI by its Spanish initials) the appointment of a Special Independent Prosecutor for former Santa Isabel Mayor Enrique Questell Alvarado because, OPFEI said, there is sufficient cause to believe that he violated various provisions of the Penal Code of Puerto Rico and special laws when appointing Carmen Rivera Torres to the position of interim director of finance of the municipality of Santa Isabel, in breach of the requirements established by law, and obstructing the audit processes carried out by the Puerto Rico Comptroller’s Office (OCPR).
Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández made the announcement after accepting a report issued by the agency’s Division of Public Integrity and Comptroller Affairs (DIPAC by its Spanish initials) after completing a preliminary investigation originated by a referral from the OCPR.
Pursuant to the DIPAC investigation, the former mayor may have violated the provisions of Articles 262 and 264 of the Puerto Rico Penal Code, on failure to comply with duty and misappropriation of public funds, respectively. He may have also failed to comply with the requirements of the then-current Autonomous Municipalities Law and the Law to Classify as a Serious Crime the Obstruction of an Audit by the Office of the Comptroller of Puerto Rico.
“The actions of the former mayor could constitute: (1) violation of the provisions of Article 1 of Act 37-2004, Law to Classify Obstruction of an Audit of the Office of the Comptroller of Puerto Rico as a Serious Crime,” reads the report. “That legislation classifies as a serious crime for a person or official to delay, obstruct or prevent an audit or investigation carried out by the OCPR, or any official designated by it to carry out said management; and (2) to Article 11.027 (a) of the then in force Autonomous Municipalities Law, which provides, as pertinent, that any person who intentionally violates any of the provisions of this law, or who violates the ordinances, regulations or rules approved by virtue of this, will incur a less serious crime.”