Special independent prosecutor panel shelves case against ex-Guánica mayor
By John McPhaul
The Special Independent Prosecutor Panel (SIP) issued a resolution Monday shelving the case against former Guánica Mayor Martín Vargas Morales.
The case originated with a referral to the PSIP as part of the final report of the Puerto Rico Senate Municipal Affairs Committee (Senate Resolution 0070).
The investigation began with a complaint filed by Mayor Santos Seda Nazario about works of art that were acquired with municipal funds during Vargas Morales’ tenure as mayor.
According to the report of the investigating prosecutor, Rafael Sánchez Hernández, both the reports of the island Justice Department and those of the Comptroller’s Office reveal that the acquired works were destined to be exhibited at the Pedro Juan Vargas Mercado Museum of Art and History in Guánica.
According to the aforementioned information, the work “Flor del Aire” is the only one that has not been located. However, there is no proof that anyone appropriated it.
The SIP resolution cites the Justice Department report by stating that “Mayor Martín Vargas Morales did not exercise the best judgment, in that he was neither prudent nor sensible.” In addition, it is pointed out that the cost of the works was excessive and extremely unnecessary.
However, in the case of events that occurred between 2006 and 2007, the possible crimes would be prescribed by the statute of limitations.
As of this date, it is of greater importance for the panel that Article 4 of Lev 2-1988 provides that the entity would have jurisdiction over officials within four years after they have left office.
Vargas Morales ceased his duties as mayor of Guánica more than nine years ago, for which reason the SIP lacks jurisdiction to address the matter, according to the panel’s resolution.