• The San Juan Daily Star

SIPs assigned to ex-Santa Isabel mayor’s case, DNER chief referred to GEO

Natural and Environmental Resources Secretary Rafael Machargo Maldonado

By The Star Staff

The Special Independent Prosecutor Panel (PFEI by its Spanish initials) accepted the recommendation of the Secretary of Justice that an investigation be carried out by special independent prosecutors (SIPs) in the case of the former mayor of Santa Isabel, Enrique Questell Alvarado.

The in-depth investigation by the SIPs will be conducted after the Puerto Rico Department of Justice (DJPR) completed a preliminary investigation that originated with some allegations that were sent to that agency by Reps. Estrella Martínez Soto and Héctor Ferrer Santiago.

Those allegations focused on the fact that on April 5, 2021, in a legislative hearing held by the House Committee for the Development and Supervision of Public Funds of the South Central Region, Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) Secretary Rafael Machargo Maldonado stated that, during the summer of 2020, he met in a private residence of the then-mayor Questell Alvarado in relation to the complaint against the latter pending in the DNER.

As a result of the DJPR’s preliminary investigation, Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández recommended the appointment of an SIP against Questell Alvarado, given the possibility that he committed crimes. In addition, the Justice chief recommended referring this matter to the electoral comptroller and the Government Ethics Office (GEO) for a rigorous investigation.

In its Resolution, the PFEI states that it conducted a thorough evaluation of the DJPR investigation and its recommendation that an SIP be appointed to investigate the possible commission of crimes by the former mayor in violation of the Criminal Code of 2012.

Likewise, it resolved that, once the procedures are concluded, the file be sent to the GEO so that it can evaluate the conduct of Machargo Maldonado.

To this end, the PFEI appointed Emilio Arill García as SIP and Manuel Núñez Corrada as deputy SIP to conduct an in-depth investigation into the matter. The SIPs have a period of 90 days to carry out their assignment and submit a report to the PFEI.

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